A vaccine death untold, as nepotism goes bad

6 mins read

During an election week, the government had to be on its best behaviour to generate all the good news stories it could muster while swatting away criticism from the opposition parties.

So, the clunky government machine (propaganda is too sophisticated a concept) had to be on its toes when faced with a double whammy of a woman dying after taking an AstraZeneca shot and one of its own forging his qualifications.

There is irony in the Volunteerism and NGOs Commissioner feeling the need to embellish his academic ability when government jobs are not distributed on the notion of competence or talent.

Political appointments are jobs for the boys gift-wrapped in party cronyism with the minimal expectation that you can get it right.

It’s an overpaid job for life as long as you toe the party line and don’t get caught shoving envelopes in your suit pocket.

The government is littered with deadwood whose only function is to take a paycheque for sitting in a chair.

Cyprus politics is built on clientelism, doing a favour for a favour, and if you can’t reciprocate, your career is going to fade faster than the guy who invented the waterbed.

While the Anastasiades administration tried to create a back story to the Yiannis Yiannaki saga (figuring out who to blame), it decided to keep quiet about the AZ-linked death.

The Health Ministry, to its credit, keeps us routinely informed of the island’s Covid landscape but made no official statement concerning the 39-year-old British woman who died from a blood clot after receiving AstraZeneca.

There was no explanation of the circumstances of her death, who she was or a timeline of what happened to her.

Even when the woman fell ill days after taking the jab in Paphos, there was no update on her condition or seriousness.

It was left to the state-funded Cyprus News Agency to announce her death and quote an official saying the European Medicines Agency was looking into it.

Different journey

A rather strange approach by the government to treat the incident as if it had happened in a different country when it’s the first such death (I presume) linked to AZ that occurred in Cyprus.

I’m sure if it had been a Cypriot politician who had fallen ill after taking a Covid-19 vaccine jab, the entire story would have taken a different journey.

Soon after the woman’s death (her name was Stephanie Dubois), health authorities recommended that AZ not be given to anyone aged under 50.

Pfizer and Moderna are suggested for younger age groups, even though blood clots are a rare side effect.

What also remains to be seen is whether the Health Ministry will publish the results of the investigation into Stephanie’s untimely death.

They will most probably leave it to the Europeans to come up with the conclusions as they seem quite happy to pretend it didn’t happen.

And this is not a question about personal data or unduly scaring the public; somebody died after taking a Covid vaccine.

The public has a right to know the circumstances of the woman’s death, and as someone living in Cyprus, she deserves some official acknowledgement or, dare I say, compassion.

Vaccinations have been a lifesaver during the pandemic, but being open about what happened to Stephanie would allay fears of anything untoward.

President Anastasiades was also eager to declare there would be no cover-up in the commissioner fiasco, despite the fact he hired him for a plum job worth €6,000 month plus €2,000 expenses and a car.

I’m not sure what a volunteerism commissioner does, but it’s a tidy sum for going on beach-cleaning expeditions or encouraging students to save the planet.

No wonder he doctored his school diploma marks. Although, he did leave the written number in brackets untouched. Smart.

His deception was neither complex nor devious.

It was just super dumb, but those who hired him were even dumber not to spot it.

That’s assuming those hiring Yiannaki did so based on his academic acumen and general high intelligence. Of course, they did not.

They weren’t looking for someone who could do the job, he was chosen, and as long as he could write his own name to sign the cheques, mission accomplished.

Anastasiades also seemed to miss the point when arguing he couldn’t be expected to vet a person’s credentials while blaming a previous government for hiring him.

Yes, he was recruited for a different job before you hired him years later in another post.

So obviously, if his CV was good enough in the 90s, it was beyond reproach in 2013.

Connected people don’t improve or learn new skills over time; they are just born brilliant at everything with a little help from Tippex.