South Africa: Religion, Vaccines, Medical Ethics and Just Distribution - a Hindu Perspective


In Hinduism, life is sacred and there is no prohibition against vaccines. Ayurveda, ('The Science of Life'), the traditional Hindu system of medicine, can be traced to the religious texts of the 'Atharva Veda'. One of the earliest references to modern-style vaccination is in the 'Harivamsa Purana' and is attributed to Dhanwantari, 'God of Ayurveda'.

There are many robust debates about the scramble for Covid-19 vaccines, efficacy, narrow nationalism, transparency in terms of experimental procedures and peer review processes, expiry dates (and expressions of gratitude for commercial transactions), priority recipients, and the naysayers.

Some religious groups, cults and cliques are opposed to vaccinations. There are some legitimate concerns about whether the Covid-19 vaccines contained any forbidden animal products.

Historically, there have been tensions between scriptural beliefs and the logic and rationality of science. However, Albert Einstein said "science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind."

According to Canadian physician, Sir William Osler, widely respected as the father of modern medicine: "Nothing in life is more wonderful than faith -- the one great moving force which we can neither weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible... Faith has always been an essential factor in the practice...

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