I thought I had thought that firmly. I don’t need such a third shot, the booster shot against corona, because there are too many countries in the world that we used to summarize under the heading Third World, where they still have to start their first shots.
But then there was good news from Paramaribo, from my in-laws. The book I sent them two months ago had arrived after all. In the past it often happened that books from the Netherlands were first frantically searched by officials, who were not so much driven by a thirst for reading, but by a thirst for euro notes, which would be hidden between the pages. But the book was delivered undamaged.
The second good news, my mother-in-law delivered it without any fuss or triumph: her husband and she, both pricked for the third time. I was happy about that, because the vaccination rate in Suriname is low, and older people run serious risks. And when the video connection was broken (‘aboeng, aboeng’) I noticed that beneath that joy there was also some envy hiding.
Is Suriname a ‘third world country’? In the past, when the country could boast about the level of its education and medical care, there was some talk about ‘the first country of the third world’. There are now many vaccines for this, because the suspicion of jabs is not a typical Dutch or European phenomenon. But a start has also been made in Suriname with the third round. Which, when the time comes, I wanted to pass by in solidarity, with a view to the wide world. The fight against corona will be global or not, because the world depends on planes, cargo boats, travelers and migrants. At universities they are allowed to worry about ‘safe spaces’, on earth they are unforgivable.
just read in de Volkskrant an interview with Canadian writer Michael Ignatieff, in which he cheerfully reports: “I will receive my third jab against corona later today. Give me now anytime.” In my head the firm no-booster resolution is already starting to slide.
Three-quarters of a year ago I looked at Israel with zeal: lightning fast with vaccinations, with military discipline. That was a country that cared about its citizens. But it is precisely there, where the booster shots have also been handed out for months, that the virus continues to revive, also because a large part of the Palestinians who come to Israel for work have had no or insufficient shots.
Portugal, Portugal is now the new dream country. A vaccination rate of 98 percent, without a mouth cap in the cafe. But last summer Lisbon had to be partially in lockdown. Own country, own people first? And do we want to live on, vacuum packed?
Stephan Sanders writes a column here every Monday.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of November 22, 2021
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