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Irrational Fear of COVID Vaccines: Things you should know
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A million lives are saved because of vaccination every year. However, worries about the safety of vaccines threaten to reverse some of the progress made by vaccination programs.

In 2020, World Health Organisation (WHO) listed reluctance to vaccinate despite their availability as one of the top ten global health threats. As per the report that ~80% of people worldwide think that vaccines are both safe and effective,” whereas the remaining 20% of people are worried about them and can greatly influence others.”

Currently, vaccination against COVID-19 disease is in progress in most countries. However, we must consider that to end the COVID-19 pandemic, successful coordination (from the researchers, manufacturers, and suppliers to the governments, funders, health stakeholders), distribution, and deployment of vaccines besides their just development is essential to enable the world to combat the disease.

To guarantee that everyone will get a COVID-19 vaccine everywhere, the government should prioritize health equity.

Let’s consider the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy

1) People do not consider the disease as life-threatening.
2) Clinicians and healthcare workers are not explaining the vaccine advantage in simple languages, such as what each vaccine prevents and why it is important?
3) Some people are concerned about the harmful chemicals used in the vaccine. However, they do not understand that only trace amounts of these chemicals are used in vaccines, which are not toxic to the human body.
4) Normal populations do not understand the genetics behind SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. For example, some people are concerned about whether mRNA will modify their DNA. Modification of DNA is not possible since mRNA does not incorporate into DNA. The mRNA used in the vaccine only provides instructions to make the “spike protein” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which then stimulates the production of antibodies against it, and then the mRNA is quickly degraded.
5) Fear of needles: Some people may faint after the process.
6) WhatsApp worries
7) It is very difficult for some to believe that effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in less than a year and feel something “fishy” about it. There are several reasons behind its fast approval: a) The combined effort put forth by pharmaceutical companies and researchers worldwide b) removal of bureaucratic obstacles such as review of the documentation and its authorization was granted almost at the same time the tests were completed. c) To speed up the process, labeling was set aside

We should understand that COVID-19 vaccines approved by FDA had to fulfil rigorous criteria to pass. If the vaccines didn’t meet the requirements, FDA would never approve them. One should not question that.

COVID-19 vaccines in other forms

There are only seven of the vaccines in clinical trials that don’t use shots: four are pills, and four are intranasal (given as sprays in the nose). Let us have a look:

I) Oral COVID-19 vaccines (pills or tablets)
1) The vaccine developed by Vaxart works by using a non-replicating adenovirus vector that delivers the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material to certain cells in the body and activates the immune system. Doses: one or two doses Completion: by the end of 2021 CT phase: I
2) The oral vaccine developed by ImmunityBio and NantKwest uses a non-replicating adenovirus vector and is in phase 1 clinical trial. The initial study is scheduled to be finished towards the end of 2021.
3) Symvivo has developed a vaccine pill using coronavirus's genetic material and is currently in phase 1 clinical trial. This study should be complete at the beginning of 2022.
4) Oramed Pharmaceuticals and Premas Biotech have formed Oravax Medical. Oravax's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is a virus-like particle (VLP) that targets three structural proteins, which has the potential to protect against emerging variants of coronavirus. Furthermore, the oral administration of the vaccine may enable easier distribution and large-scale inoculation without needing an injection.

II) Intranasal COVID-19 vaccines in development
1) Nasal spray developed by Altimmune uses an adenovirus vector. CT: phase 1 clinical trial. Completion: at the beginning of 2022.
2) The nasal spray was developed jointly by Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. and Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Prevention and Control and has started a phase 2 clinical trial. It uses a weakened flu virus that carries some of the coronavirus genetic material to activate the immune system.
3) Nasal spray developed jointly by Codagenix, and the Serum Institute of India uses a weakened coronavirus vaccine to stimulate the immune system. CT: phase 1 clinical trial. Completion: in the middle of 2021.
4) A coronavirus protein subunit based nasal spray developed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB, India) CT: phase 1/2 clinical trial Doses: 3 (either nasal spray or combination of shot and spray)

In addition to these vaccines being studied in clinical trials, at least ten other vaccines in pre-clinical development are given either as oral or intranasal doses. To sum up, some people are afraid of vaccines because they believe vaccines will bring more serious medical problems than protection. They need to decide whether they are just selfish about themselves or care about their family, dear ones, or the people who can’t be vaccinated (pregnant women, children, people with serious health conditions). Herd immunity means that when most of a population is immune to the disease, it indirectly protects the vulnerable ones.

By Reeshu Gupta
Lead-Content Generation

15 November 2021