Coronavirus: Myths about the COVID-19 vaccine busted
As vaccines for COVID-19 have started being rolled out in parts of the world, certain myths have been propagated questioning their safety and efficacy. For months, concerns were being raised as the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed under record timelines. Recent reports of allergic reactions experienced by people have also worried some people. Here's what you need to know.
COVID-19 vaccines are being created in record time. Often vaccines take years, even decades, to be made. This has led people to question the safety of the vaccines. However, the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are based on the "plug-and-play" mRNA technology, which has been under development for decades. This technology was designed especially for a pandemic situation.
Separately, vaccines are usually not profitable for drugmakers. With the COVID-19 vaccines, development and production were ramped up as governments were ready to pay billions upfront. The trials also finished quickly as the pandemic was raging and enough got infected to ascertain that the vaccines offered protection against the disease. Further, administrative processes were also accelerated to reduce red-tapism.
Only people with allergies to certain vaccine ingredients, such as polyethylene glycol, should not get the COVID-19 vaccines. Notably, no allergic reactions were seen in Pfizer and Moderna's clinical trials, which involved nearly 80,000 people. It was only after vaccine roll-out that some people witnessed severe allergic reactions, but such instances are expected to be "uncommon and rare."
Dr. Elissa Malkin— assistant research professor of Medicine at the George Washington University and a co-investigator on Moderna's vaccine clinical trial at GW—told CNN, "Honestly, anaphylaxis and other serious allergic reactions are considered a potential risk with every licensed vaccine." She said, "It's not surprising that as more people get vaccinated that allergic reactions would appear. We expect them to be uncommon and rare."
Since both Pfizer and Moderna's products use mRNAs for vaccine delivery, a myth was circulated that it could impact one's DNA. Former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden tweeted, "Think of it as an email sent to your immune system that shows what the virus looks like, instructions to kill it, and then—like a Snapchat message—it disappears. Amazing technology."
Although the vaccines have some side-effects, COVID-19 has been associated with a severe fever, cough, long-term lung damage, and even death. Brown University emergency room doctor Dr. Megan Ranney tweeted, "1% of all ppl who catch COVID-19 die. Another 10-20% are hospitalized. Another 30+% have long-lasting symptoms. The vaccine is far safer, with only minor temporary side effects."