Boris yesterday told us that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had ‘made it very clear’ that the AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘very good and efficacious’ and gives a ‘high degree of protection after just one dose, and even more after two doses’.
I enjoyed two aspects of this announcement: after months of statistics of infection rates, and deaths it’s good news of vaccination and hope… and he used the word ‘efficacious’.
It reminded me of the song that I learnt as a teenager and used when teaching music in school about a different medication:
We’ll drink a drink a drink
to Lily the pink the pink the pink
the saviour of the human race
for she invented, medicinal compound
most efficacious in every case.
Questionable humour in a strange song, but the principle of a universal medicine that works for everything is a great idea.
The story behind it is even stranger…
Lydia Pinkham invented a ‘medicinal compound’ that was sold in the United States from 1876. Made of vegetables and alcohol it was initially supposed to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains…
It was particularly popular during the US prohibition era when it was a legitimate source of alcohol.
This ‘medicine’ became legendary with alleged cure-all claims… Its reputation developed into a bawdy drinking song ‘The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham’ – that was sung in First World War prisoner of war camps in Germany…
And the tune for this bawdy drinking song? The old 19th century hymn ‘I will sing of my redeemer’.
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.
Sing, oh, sing of my Redeemer,
With His blood He purchased me,
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
…And those who are Christians will claim this is ‘efficacious in every case’.