’ve had three COVID vaccinations so far, including a booster shot, and I hope I don’t need to have anymore. But I’m preparing myself for several more doses because they seem inevitable.
Just look at the results of a new study in Israel. The study found that giving a fourth dose of COVID vaccine to people over 60 makes them three times more resistant to serious illness than people in the same age group who’ve been vaccinated just three times.
While I’m not quite 60, I’m concerned that a fourth dose will soon be recommended for everyone. And after that, scientists will perform a study that shows that people who get a fifth dose are four times more resistant to serious illness than people who’ve been vaccinated just four times.
And before you know it, we’ll all be catching up with Brahmdeo Mandal. In case you haven’t heard of Mandal, he’s the 84-year-old Bihar man who set an unofficial Guinness World Record for most COVID vaccinations. The retired postman from Madhepura district has been vaccinated 11 times since last February.
I’m calling it an ‘unofficial’ Guinness World Record because the Guinness people have not yet visited India to verify and recognise Mandal’s achievement. As far as I know, they do not currently recognise any records pertaining to COVID vaccinations, not even for “Loudest Scream While Getting a COVID Shot.” (Other potential records that they might want to consider: “Longest Queue at a COVID Vaccination Clinic” and “Most Jabs Given by a Single Health Worker in 24 Hours.”)
The Guinness people would probably be reluctant to recognise Mandal, as it might encourage him to get more shots. They may also wonder whether getting 11 vaccinations qualifies as an ‘achievement.’
But it certainly is an achievement in my view, because not everyone is capable of the necessary deception to get 11 shots. Mandal apparently evaded detection by going to different vaccination camps and telling health workers that he hadn’t received a single shot yet. He recorded the date and location of each shot in a notebook.
For his first nine shots, he apparently used his Aadhaar card and mobile number, then switched to other forms of identification, including his wife’s mobile number.
Why did he go to all this trouble? “I felt that it was helping my general health,” he told the New York Times in a recent phone interview. “My backache has improved, my general weakness improved, and my appetite improved.”
So Mandal is suggesting that the COVID vaccine, in addition to helping us fight the COVID virus, is also good for our health in other ways? Don’t be surprised if the COVID vaccine makers are already conducting Mandal-related research. In a few years, we may see advertisements that say, “Do you have back pain, loss of appetite, general weakness? Ask your doctor about the COVID vaccine. COVID: Curing Our Very Intense Disorders.”
Thanks to Mandal, we may be getting annual COVID vaccinations as soon as we turn 60—or perhaps even earlier.
In case you’re wondering, Mandal did not escape legal trouble completely. Perhaps because he bragged to his friends about his many vaccinations, it came to the attention of the media and health authorities. Soon, Dr. Amarendra Narayan Shahi, the chief medical officer in Madhepura district, was putting together a three-member investigating team to uncover the truth.
According to reports, police have registered a first information report (FIR) against Mandal.
Officer: “How many jabs did you get?”
Mandal: “Eleven jabs.”
Officer: “And do you want more jabs?”
Mandal: “Yes, but not at the police station.”
Indeed, Mandal is eager to get more vaccinations. “I will take the booster dose as well to see its efficacy,” he told reporters. “If it is beneficial, then I will take not 12 but even 24 doses.”
Twenty-four doses? Perhaps it’s time to distribute Mandal’s photo to every vaccination site in Bihar. And mail one copy to the Guinness people.