Covid vaccines: never has there been a situation in history so perfectly designed for conspiracy theorists. A new global pandemic + social media has proven to be a recipe for disaster. And of course at the forefront of all this is the anti-vax rhetoric that seems to be gaining more and more traction.
Let’s face it, most of us have busy lives and we don’t have time to trawl though peer reviewed journals and source check all the materials we engage with; it’s time consuming and, in the case of vaccines, the language is very scientific and takes effort to sort through and understand. Social media gives us snippets, quick fixes and memes that we take on either conciously or sub-conciously and are designed to make a quick, simple point about a huge, multi-layered issue. So I’m going to do a bit of leg work for you here and hopefully dispell some of the myths floating around about the Covid vaccine.
However, first let’s recap on what vaccines are, what they do and how the new mRNA vaccines differ. Then we can bust some myths.
Questions we all should be able to answer?
Why don’t we have small pox any more? New generations won’t get to see many of the diseases we vaccinate for and that’s a good thing because they were horrendous. In 1967 small pox was responsible for the deaths of millions but by 1980 it was eradicated, thus saving countless future lives from the same fate. Pretty amazing right? We’ve completely wiped out a disease that was deadly to humans. You don’t need a PHD to see that’s a positive thing (unless you are a serial killer). From 1964-65 before the Rubella vaccine there were 21,000 neo-natal deaths and 11,000 miscarriages. Of the 20,000 born with Rubella 10,000 ended up deaf and 3000 ended up blind. Imagine not getting your children vaccinated for Rubella and they end up blind. Polio has nigh on been eradicated (particularly in the western world), and if you know anything about this disease you’ll know that the effects of polio are less than pleasant, if the virus spreads to the nervous it can cause paralysis and lead to another horrible illness, Meningitis. I’m sure I don’t need to continue.
What is herd immunity? Vaccines don’t just protect you from getting sick, they protect whole populations of people by creating something called herd immunity. When a certain percentage of a population become vaccinated there is a lot less Real Estate for germs thereby decreasing the chances of you getting sick and spreading the germs to others. Of course there are some people who may have weaker immune systems than you or some people who can’t get the vaccine such as pregnant women or people with severe allergies. So you might be ok with your child getting measles but what about if they give it to another child who has immuno-deficiency issues and your child transmits a deadly disease onto them? I’ve met people before whose child had a bad reaction to the vaccine and they were understandably upset and I can understand how this experience might motivate you to be an anti-vaxxer but when you look at the statistical evidence and look at what you are preventing the argument is overwhleming and of course this could mean that your child falls into the category of those that need protecting so in actual fact it should make you more pro-vaccine. So it’s not just about you it’s about protecting the group too which harkens back to how we actually evolved as a species. Check out this cool vid that illustrates it perfectly.
What’s Different About the mRNA Vaccine?
What most traditional vaccines do is provide us with an inactive or weakend version of the virus which may carry some small side effects such as chills, tiredness and headache. This occurs due to the fact your immune system is kicking in and recognising the virus. Your body is basically priming itself for the real thing.
However (and this is where it gets exciting) the Covid 19 mRNA vaccines carry genetic instructions but it’s only coding for one small part of the virus. The mRNA makes its way into your cells where the information is read and starts to create the spike proteins. Once the protein is made it goes to the cell membrane and then breaks down and destroys the injected mRNA instruction. In regular English, what it does is gives your body a preview of what the virus will look like without causing disease. Your antibodies will notice it, say this doesn’t belong here and trigger your immune response (you get a head start). All pretty cool. Check out this article.
Let’s Bust Some Myths
The Covid Vaccine changes your genetics – The covid vaccine does not change your genetics. In order to do that it would need to go into the nucleus of the cell. As I touched on earlier the covid vaccine is interested into the Ribosomes of your cell and therefore it cannot change your genetics. What it does is acts as a blueprint to the factory (ribosomes) that makes proteins and tells it I want to make a protein that is similar to the spike protein on the virus. Once this is done the immune system will see this and say ‘that’s not usually here’ and mounts an immune response. In the future when covid comes calling your immune system is basically ready and waiting. It’s like giving covid the one finger salute.
The Covid Vaccine is rushed so it can’t be safe – Developing a vaccine this quickly is unprecedented but it’s not the Science that’s been rushed. mRNA vaccines have been being studied and researched for decades and this vaccine has still gone through the usual rigorous protocols. There are only minor side-effects as there are with all vaccines; the odds of getting a reaction are extremely low e.g. the odds of a reaction to the MMR vaccine are 1/1,000,000. Ten times less likely than getting struck by lightning.
What is particularly unique about the covid vaccine is the vast numbers that are needed and how they can manufacture such huge quantities in a short space of time. Here is an interesting article relating to supply chains. It’s this aspect of the covid vaccine that has been the number 1 challenge but with many different parties collaborating together hopefully life will return to something resembling normal by June / July.
Vaccines contain harmful chemicals – It’s true that vaccines contain ingredients that can be toxic such as mercury. These are included to make vaccines more effective. However, they contain such tiny amounts of these chemicals that they are completely harmless. It’s all in the dose, we take 2 paracetomol to get rid if a headache but you don’t need to be a genius to know what will happen if you take 100. A couple of beers is fine but we all know what happens when you drink 20. Coffee can be toxic if you drink enough of it and that goes for most other things too. It’s a limp argument that falls at the first hurdle. Check out ths article which lists the ingredients of the covid vaccine.
What’s the point of getting the vaccine if the survival rate is 99%? – I’ll repeat this. ‘It’s not just about you’. We need to think of ourselves as a collective. The virus has the power for exponential growth which is difficult to envisage but as the video I linked above shows it can spread quickly. So once we have herd immunity we are not only protecting ourselves but also those in our community that are most vulnerable.
What’s the Point if it’s not 100% effective? – Most vaccines are not 100% effective. The flu vaccine is around 50-60% effective but of course it still saves many many lives. The point being that the more people that get it the more likely we are to reduce deaths. The Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are 95% effective.
It’s all about big pharma making money – Yes, pharmaceutical companies make money from producing vaccines. One estimate puts the the market value at 24B Dollars. However when you look at the amount of money saved through the prevention of illnesses this amount pales in comparison. In the US between 1995 – 2013 vaccines created a new saving of 295 billion dollars in direct cost and 1.38 trillion in societal cost.
Bill Gates is microchipping the vaccines to track us – If you believe this you are probably not suitable for unsupervised employment.
I hope this was clear and I urge you to do your research and check your sources. Anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists are without a doubt the most prone group to tunnel vision and confirmation bias which I feel is detrimental to our progress as a species. Ask yourself this: do you want to go through life being fearful and suspicious or brave and curious?