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apple developer account:Goodbye 2020 u2013 you taught us many lessons!


IN his “sermon” last Friday, our imam Ilyas Anwar recalled with restrained wistfulness his first online Friday noon talk 42 weeks earlier.He was careful not to label that a sermon as there was no traditional “Iqama salah” (a call to prayer) uttered afterwards to signal the start of the congregational prayer. This disruption to our Friday routine was but a tiny blip to the overall global chaos triggered by the Covid-19 virus. This tiny and elemental life form continues to humble the world. Even US, with its humongous defence budget, was no match.The week before as I stood in line with my co-workers to get the first of our two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, I was struck by one thought. As medical professionals we are aware of the importance of vaccines. However what I saw in the facial reactions and body language of my co-workers that morning reflected something much more. It was as if we were being dispensed a much-needed ray of hope to what had been a horrendous past many months. It also brought back memories of my Malaysian childhood back in the 1950s, when I too was among the first to be given the polio vaccine at school. There were no cards or digital records then to show we had been vaccinated. Instead we were slapped with a wide adhesive tape across our chest with the stern warning not to remove it, much like ranchers tag their cattle, minus the instruction.The relief on my parents’ face when I came home that day remains etched in my memory. My mother ran to hug me while uttering her not-so-silent prayers of gratitude. Being school teachers, they saw first-hand the devastations the polio virus had brought upon the young. Unlike writers and artists who are effective and emotive in expressing their inner feelings, we physicians are drilled not to show ours. The best I could muster after receiving my Covid-19 shot was to thank the nurse and uttered the usual complimentary remarks, “I didn’t feel a thing!”That elicited a grateful sweet smile from her. In truth I was the one most grateful. My gratitude goes to the husband-and-wife team of Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci. They had worked diligently for years with their novel approach in developing this vaccine. As an aside, they were focused earlier on treating cancer using this technique. My gratitude also goes to their parents who were Turkish immigrants to Germany. Unlike refugees who had no choice, legal migration is a volitional act, with many conflicting motives and emotions brought into play. I do not know the circumstances that made the parents leave their native Turkey, but mankind is the beneficiary of their earlier decisions.The development of this Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is instructive from so many angles. It displays the might and creativity of capitalism, and the private sector generally, in providing the needed massive infusion of funds and the subsequent efficient supply chain needed to distribute it. Granted, much of the earlier basic research were funded publicly.The other principal player is Albert Bourla, Greek-born and educated veterinarian head of Pfizer. The Greeks and Turks are societal equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys. Yet they were able to overcome that heavy tribal baggage to work for the benefit of mankind. All these put the current Malaysian obsession with the halal status of the vaccine so distracting and infantile. This vaccine saves lives and spares sufferings. By definition, that is halal. Early in the pandemic, our imam Ilyas called the members of the board of our local mosque to consider closing it temporarily. I recall his plea: he would have to bear the burden should anyone in our congregation become ill as a consequence of our gathering. The next day we closed our mosque. Two days later, California issued its edict banning mass gatherings, including houses of worship. Words cannot adequately express our congregation’s gratitude to the foresight and wisdom of our imam. We were spared the “fear God more than the virus” pontifications.That in the end is the functional definition of an imam or any religious leader, to lead the flock along the straight path, away from harm. As I say goodbye to 2020 and wish everyone a happy new year, I pray the ray of hope that shone on the day I received my Covid-19 vaccine would bloom into its promised full brightness in the new year!At the same time, we should not forget the humbling lesson of 2020, that the tiniest life form could halt human civilisation. – December 28, 2020.* M. Bakri Musa reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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