By: Syeda Duaa
The world is facing a pandemic since the end of the year 2019. Now, everyone has accepted the life-changing effects of Coronavirus. It is getting harder and harder to protect oneself from the chaos of Coronavirus. Vaccine development is the only option that can lead life back to normalcy. There are two mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Scientists are not sure about the long-lasting effects of mRNA-based vaccines because this is the first time such a vaccine is being used widely. So, the question here is that how are people going to react to this? Are they going to stay quiet and get vaccinated? Are they going to be trying to find answers to their confusions and problems? Maybe they will not get vaccinated and hide in their homes from the fear of the side effects of vaccines? What will be the impact of these vaccines on the daily activities of the people?
The misconceptions that are circulating the social media are playing with the hearts and minds of people. They have no one to clear their misunderstandings. The most common question that people have about this vaccine is RNA vaccine and alteration of the person’s DNA. This claim is entirely wrong. The mRNA is made up of the DNA. It is used as a hallmark for Coronavirus’s spike protein to provoke the immune system within the human body. Once this happens, the body breaks down the mRNA. Hence, it is not genetically possible for mRNA to become a part of our DNA.
People believe that once they get the vaccine, they will not have to wear masks or focus on social distancing. This mindset is completely wrong. Even if a person gets vaccinated, he/she must get a second dose of the vaccine after two to three weeks. In almost ten days, antibodies will form in our body, and then they continue to increase in number. There is no scientific proof that the vaccine can protect from asymptomatic infection and its spread.
The biggest misconception playing with people’s minds is that the Coronavirus vaccine cannot be trusted. Why? Because the researchers have rushed to develop this vaccine. The fact is that the vaccine is readily available because the researchers conducted the steps on a tight schedule to gather data quickly. The researchers have a lot of resources and funding because everyone is interested in getting the vaccines. China shared the genetic information about the vaccine with researchers worldwide to start working on the vaccines quickly.
The people worldwide believe that if the Coronavirus had already infected them, they could not be infected again. Well, sorry for bursting the bubble; they can get re-infected. Hence, it is better to get vaccinated because, according to many scientists Coronavirus vaccine provides better immunity than natural immunity. It is unknown how long the innate immunity will last to be on the safe side, and it is better to get vaccinated.
The next myth is “Is coronavirus vaccine a conspiracy to control people’s minds?” because they contain microchips. Well, the answer to this misconception is no. it is not. The vials of the vaccine indeed contain a microchip. However, it does not mean that it is being used to control minds or contain personal information. The microchips are regarded as a barcode. They are used for monitoring the remaining doses.
A bizarre misconception is that the vaccine might cause infertility or even miscarriage. This claim has been making rounds online and is entirely baseless. People believe that the spike proteins of the vaccine will bind with placental proteins and affect the pregnancy. If these people come out from their fictitious world, they can see that this is not the case. There has been no evidence reported regarding this. If this were true, the rate of miscarriages would have spiked tremendously.
Many videos are circulating on social media where it is highlighted that the vaccine causes severe allergic reactions. It should be kept in mind that there is a chance of one in a million individuals getting a severe allergic reaction. It is natural for our body to react against a foreign particle. Allergic reactions like joint pains and fever are normal. It occurs because our body is producing antibodies. These effects are temporary. Individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions should avoid taking this vaccine at this stage because scientists are not sure about the side effects of the vaccine on allergy-prone individuals.
Another completely inexplicable misconception floating around media is about the suspicious nature of the mRNA-based vaccine. Is it claimed that “Isn’t it a little bit suspicious that before coronavirus no vaccine existed that was based on mRNA?” Indeed, mRNA-based vaccines were never used before the Coronavirus vaccine, and it does not make it suspicious. They were under observation for the last few years but are finally approved for Coronavirus.
The last and most horrifying misconception regarding the coronavirus vaccine is aborted fetal cells for vaccine development. There is no truth to this. This claim is quite disturbing and unjustified. The people with no knowledge about vaccines are circulating this claim everywhere. They are confusing the process of development of vaccines with the research. The cloned human cells are used for research purposes only to know about the interactions of the vaccine with the cells. There are no fetal cells used for vaccine formation in any stage of vaccine development.
These mRNA-based vaccines can change the game of vaccine development. The future of vaccines is here. Everywhere people are “on the fence” when it comes to getting vaccinated. Hence, the healthcare workers should show empathy, be considerate and, share the correct facts with their patients regarding the myths of the vaccine. They should ensure that everyone makes the right decision and gets vaccinated. Therefore, get vaccinated and be safe or do not get vaccinated and face life-threatening consequences. The choice is yours!
The writer is a researcher aiming to achieve something good. She can be reached at [email protected]