Covid vaccine: Don't fall for anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories – Steve Cardownie
However, this peddling of myths and false anti-vaccine propaganda poses a very real threat to the nation’s health and is being vigorously debunked.
The approval of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine has prompted these naysayers to rush to their keyboards in unseemly haste to spout their latest round of misinformation. Nonsensical posts on Twitter likened the vaccine to thalidomide – which was responsible for thousands of children being born with birth defects in the 1960s.
Without a shred of evidence, they have embarked upon a scaremongering exercise which could, if unchecked, seriously hamper the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Comedy with tragic consequences
Some of the other false claims being peddled are that the vaccine contains a nano chip (courtesy of Bill Gates) which will track your every movement for the rest of your life, that the recipients’ DNA can be altered and that shots will contain tissue from aborted foetuses.
These claims would be nothing short of comical were they not being believed by some of the population who may elect not to have the vaccination as a result, which may have serious consequences for us all.
Research by the Vaccine Confidence Project (within the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) in a recent study, found only 54 per cent of people living in the UK would definitely take the vaccine, with those reluctant to do so citing safety concerns or that they feel the threat posed by the pandemic has been exaggerated.
Due to a huge scientific effort, these vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective just a year after Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan. Several factors came into play, such as the world’s scientists were able to hit the ground running by using new vaccine technologies for the first time, based on the genetic code of the virus which had been immediately released by the Chinese authorities.
Virus not a complete unknown
There has also been worldwide collaboration within the scientific community (rather than the norm of keeping vaccine development a closely guarded secret from potential competitors) with over 800 research and development programs currently active, with 191 of those concentrating on vaccine development. This worldwide collaboration has resulted in a record-breaking vaccine development timeline which is a cause for celebration, not misplaced cynicism.
The corona family of viruses has already tried to jump from animals to people before, with the Sars coronavirus in 2002 and Mers coronavirus in 2012. Scientists learned the virus’s biology and had identified its weak point.
The Oxford scientific team had already developed a vaccine for Mers so the Covid-19 virus was not completely unknown and this helped inform the world’s scientific community about what may be needed to combat this latest strain. Money was no object either and an unprecedented amount of international currency was thrown at the problem in an effort to find a solution. Now that effort has been rewarded.
There are very sound reasons why this vaccine has been developed so speedily, all of which can be found in reputable organs of the press, media outlets and the internet – not the hair-brained meanderings of the ill-informed and the downright malicious.