Dear friends,

Today we are proud to be launching the first of  many new stories for Unbias the News. We bring you "Vaccine Hesitancy - The Pfizer Kano Case," by authors Mahdi Garba and Modupe  Abidakun, edited by Mercy Abang and illustrated by Antoine Bouraly.  The  story investigates how a 1996 Pfizer drug trial and its outcomes and  aftermath is linked to the current COVID-19 vaccination boycott in  communities like Kano State: Vaccine hesitancy does not only apply to  situations where vaccine uptake is low because of poor availability but  also because of distrust in big pharma - based on experience.

Read the story

The  reason this story resonated with us from the beginning is that our  remote global team has seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated  inequalities and division. One key division is between the "haves" and  "have nots"- those who do, and don't have access to a vaccine. But this  division is further split into "will" and "will nots" - those who will  take the vaccine, and those who have doubts (so-called "vaccine  hesitancy.")

In  some of the countries our editorial team resides in, governments are  rolling out the red-carpet to persuade hesitant citizens to get vaxxed,  with incentives ranging from scholarships to sports tickets. In these  countries, conspiracy theories are thriving and political orientation  can determine whether or not you think the vaccine is safe.

But  there are a number of other countries where reasons to distrust global  health initiatives come not only from conspiracies but from history.  These are often developing countries with a history of colonization, where pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of lax regulations  or enforcement as an opportunity to inexpensively test drugs that can  make them billions. Such cases have been recorded in countries like Egypt, Cameroon and India in addition to Nigeria.  In  a situation like a global pandemic, the health of people in one country  are intimately tied with those around the world. Thus, the fight  against vaccine hesitancy is a crucial cross-border issue.  But  when we fail to recognize that people in developing countries have  different reasons for safety concerns, based on a history of unethical  practices by some of the same companies now issuing vaccines, then we do  a disservice to us all. Is transparency one of the keys to fighting  vaccine inequality?

Vaccine Hesitancy - The Pfizer Kano Case

This  is the first of many stories we will publish at Unbias the News that  will offer a local perspective on issues with cross-border relevance,  and aim to offer context and nuance to help our readers connect the dots  on the pressing issues of our times.

If you'd like to support our mission and enable more stories from underrepresented journalists, please consider becoming a member today!

Best regards, 

Tina Lee, Editor-in-Chief 

Let's unbias the news! 

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