In the few months that have passed since the first covid-19 vaccine, we have seen most of the available doses go to the European countries and the US. But since the vaccination is finally reaching some of the poorer countries, there is a problem we should discuss: the lack of trust in governments and politicians and even the media in these countries.

I live in such a county, where conspiracy theories that once were deemed outlandish, have been proven right in recent years. Trust in politicians is dead. Doesn’t matter if they are hardliners or not. Doesn’t matter if they call themselves reformists or not. The majority of people don’t trust or believe them anymore.

 

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One of the most lethal blows to public trust happened almost 4 years ago. In our last presidential election, people voted for Hassan Rouhani. Like every other election, some people said that voting doesn’t matter and “they” -meaning the ruling class- are going to do whatever they want no matter who is elected.

The young and educated people and the reformist groups did whatever they could to persuade people that their vote counts and can make a difference, which was hard after the 2009 elections. But this time, the main selling point was the joint comprehensive plan of action or JCPOA (sometimes called the Iran nuclear deal) which made life easier for Iranian people and was the direct result of Rouhani’s foreign policy.

It’s been 4 years since that time. And now the JCPOA is on its last leg, economic conditions are bad and the main rivals of Rouhani in the last election are Chief Justice and Speaker of the Parliament. How can anyone say that voting made things better?

It wasn’t just one thing though. Many events and actions led to this situation. One of them -for example- was the crash of the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 over Tehran and the subsequent lies about the cause. The other was the way that the protests were handled in recent years. Many protesters died and people haven’t forgotten. The government’s disastrous handling of this pandemic from the start didn’t help either.

People don’t trust the government and they don’t trust the government’s relationship with China and Russia. That’s why when they hear on the news that the Iranian people will receive Chinese and Russian made vaccines, they’re very skeptic. So this is the first problem: the origin of the vaccines and the question of their efficacy. But it’s not the only problem. The trust in government is so low that people are not even sure that the vaccines they would get is actually what the authorities say it is. As far as the people are concerned, it can be distilled water in a syringe.

And the way that the media has handled these events in the past years, has stripped them from all credibility. People don’t trust the media either. So they can’t really help here, even if they want to.

 

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We need the United Nations and WHO to sort out this mess. If the world wants everyone to be vaccinated in order to actually contain this virus and get back to some sort of normal, there is no other way. When governments fail, we need the reputable international organizations to use all their credibility to save lives. If not, why do they even exist? Are they waiting for some bigger crisis than this pandemic?

In countries like Iran, in the war-torn middle-east and in countries riddled with corruption, we need the UN and its subsidiaries. Otherwise, the loss of life will continue and this pandemic will get out of hand again.

And remember, most of the people in these countries really want the vaccines. There are so few anti-vaxxers here. We actually had a social media campaign demanding vaccines from our government. So it can work. But I guess that’s not really up to us.

We’ll see in the coming months if the world leaders and international organizations can handle these vaccine problems.

We’ll hope for the best, because we have no other choice…

 

Photo credit: Ivan Diaz