On a planet far, far away

A journey to a parallel universe, quite similar to ours. With apologies to Jonathan Swift

Researchers at the Wuhan lab in China have discovered a new virus that could be the deadliest of them all. The D (De-A-Th) variant is 100 percent lethal in those who contract it, and the most vulnerable are the very old and the very sick. “Once you get it, that’s it, curtains,” explained Dr Faucet, a top medical person.

Pharmaceutical researchers have been working around the clock for three days to come up with a vaccine to counter De-A-Th. Although it has passed only phase one safety trials, the vaccine is ready to be rolled out.

So far, it’s been given to a small group of 18-year-olds with remarkable success. None of the trial group has died in the past 48 hours.  

The vaccine is likely to be most effective when it is given twice over a period of 14 minutes. In another small study, a group of 12-year-olds was given the double dose with encouraging results. “Nobody died after the first shot, suggesting it is protecting against variant D, and even fewer died after the second dose,” said an incredibly independent drug evaluator at the Food and Drug Administration.

Double the dose means double the protection, said a spokesperson for Profitso, a pharmaceutical conglomerate. “The fact that this strategy also means double the revenues and double the profits, and our shareholders will see a 200 percent boost in dividends, is a very poor and distant secondary issue to the fact we are helping so many young people stay alive.”

Vaccine centers are already being set up in schools and kindergartens, and even maternity units. “You can’t get ‘em too young, that’s the policy,” explained Dr Faucet, “so then they’ll have a long, long life ahead of them, safe in the knowledge the vaccine is protecting them against variant D—until, of course, it doesn’t, and they die.”

Buoyed by this early success, governments are already planning passports for the double-vaxxed. Schools, restaurants, clubs and airlines will be admitting only people who have been vaccinated. “Imagine sitting on a plane and the guy next to you is dead, just because he hadn’t bothered to get the jab,” explained Bob de Builda, a person who runs things in New York.

“Or how about you’re sitting in a restaurant and the woman at the next table collapses into her soup, dead. Who wants that on a night out with the family?”

Far-right so-called libertarians are claiming a vaccine passport interferes with basic human rights, and as a concession, some cities are prepared to consider extending the passport to include people who have tested negative against the De-A-Th virus. 

“If you ain’t dead, you don’t have any symptoms, although we need everyone to take the test, which costs $300 each time,” said Dr Faucet. “After all, you could be dead and not know it, which we scientists call atypical death.”

Until people are lucky enough to get the vaccination, they are advised to wear face masks and socially distance, staying at least 400 meters (1,312 feet) apart. They should continue to observe these precautions even after they have been inoculated. “Although scientists know the vaccine is 100 percent effective, it may not always be, and when it isn’t, it won’t be,” explained Dr Faucet.

Some governments have introduced full lockdowns, where people self-isolate at home and go out only for essentials. Although economists predict lockdowns will be catastrophic for the economy, scientists warn that the D variant is highly infectious. “We’re seeing very old person after very old person die from this variant, and now it’s starting to happen in people with end-stage cancers and fatal heart disease,” said Dr Boffin from the Clinton University Medical School in Arkansas.

Tragically, anti-vaxxers are beginning to populate social media platforms with misinformation about the safety of the vaccines and the origins of De-A-Th. Some claim that the virus was manufactured by Wuhan researchers from Original Sin, and it was leaked into a garden close to the laboratory when a lab assistant was eating an apple over lunch.

“This is fake news. No research funding was sent to Wuhan to engineer Original Sin, even if I do have a few patents knocking around somewhere for vaccines against De-A-Th,” explained Dr Faucet.