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Many doubt the efficacy of vaccines in general but in this day and age, can we afford to overlook them? Tatler investigates

2021 brought with it new life and hope for many of us. How we all survived the onslaught of a global pandemic seems unimaginable. As science continues to progress and Covid-19 vaccines are underway, days seem brighter than the last. Although it’s only the beginning, it is no doubt a big step away from being mired in our rooms for days, or rather months, on end.

As of writing, there have been 87.8M confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and 1.88M related deaths. As we all continue to rework our lives around new precautions and health protocols, vaccines can’t seem to come any faster. However, due to the novelty of the disease and the vaccines themselves, a few remain sceptical about the latter’s safety and efficiency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two authorised Corona-19 vaccines to date: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Besides these, there are three in ‘Phase 3’ or undergoing clinical trials, namely AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax.

Read more: Sputnik-V, Pfizer, And More: All About The Race To Find The COVID-19 Vaccine

PFIZER VS MODERNA

The Pfizer vaccine is reported to be 95 per cent effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 illness. It is administered in two shots, 21 days apart, on the muscle of the upper arm. Recorded side effects are mild to moderate chills, headaches, or tiredness. The Moderna vaccine, on the other hand, is reported to be 94.1 per cent effective and is administered similarly in two shots but this time 28 days apart. Reported side effects are similar to Pfizer’s as well.

Both vaccines are mRna types, which according to the CDC “teach[es] our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies”. This differentiates Pfizer and Moderna from other non-Covid 19 vaccines which would typically put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies to trigger an immune response.

Read more: What Is It Like To Participate In A COVID-19 Vaccine Trial? A Volunteer Speaks Up

TO VACCINE OR NOT TO VACCINE?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has always been firm on its stand on vaccination in general. “When we get vaccinated, we aren’t just protecting ourselves, but also those around us. Some people, like those who are seriously ill, are advised not to get certain vaccines —so they depend on the rest of us to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of disease”. This perhaps rings true now more than ever.

A recent article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine under Drs Maragakis and Kelen noted that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe due to three reasons: careful testing and clinical trials, passing the strict standards of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and continues to be stringent monitoring for any occurring problems or side effects. These notions are echoed by an article from BBC News by Michelle Roberts, where she goes into greater detail of how clinical trials assure a vaccine’s safety before its release to the public.

All in all, as per the CDC and WHO, there is no evidence that the current approved Covid-19 vaccines are harmful beyond their declared mild side effects.

The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt been one of the darkest times in recent memory, but it does not mean we need to remain discouraged

According to a January 2021 report by Bloomberg, a survey by Pulse Asia revealed that only a third (out of 2,400) Filipinos said they were willing to be vaccinated. The question now arises: is the want of confidence in the vaccine brought by a lack of proper education or due to sluggish information dissemination? To date, the Philippines has the second-highest confirmed Covid-19 cases (483,000~) in the Southeast Asian region after Indonesia (807,000~). The former has also been recorded as having one of the world’s longest lockdowns in 2020.

Nonetheless, several cities in Metro Manila have begun pre-registrations for inoculations. Manila City, under Mayor Isko Domagoso, has already launched a website where residents can register for the vaccine months in advance. As Filipinos wait for the availability of vaccines, there is an opportunity to understand more about Covid-19 prevention and how we can exponentially flatten the curve.

OUT OF THE DARK

Caution is a tool we cannot take for granted. As we brave new realities and remain on our toes
as to how this all unfolds, it is our moral duty to keep not only ourselves safe but also those around us. The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt been one of the darkest times in recent memory, but it does not mean we need to remain discouraged. We are all nostalgic for a future that resembles our past. And as we all brave the long road ahead, there is no choice but to keep faith and safeguard ourselves as best as we can.

Tatler Asia
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