As of January 25, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that SARS-coV-2, which causes the disease, COVID-19, has infected 98,794,942 people worldwide. We now have vaccines that can protect us, up to 95%, from contracting the virus, yet the myths and conspiracy theories continue to proliferate.
I'm a Registered Nurse, and although I do not care for patients at the bedside, at this point in my career, I see what they go through when they come to my hospital for care specific to COVID.
Many don't leave and spend their last days with an endotracheal tube down their throat and a ventilator helping them breathe or doing the actual breathing for them. And because this virus is so contagious, they often die without family or friends by their side.
I decided to write this piece to address the facts and some of the mythology, i.e. conspiracy theories, that have been multiplying across social media.
Myth: COVID is a virus that was created in a Chinese Lab.
FACT: The virus is of an unknown etiology and has killed over 4,000 people in China. This strain of the virus comes from the family of viruses that cause the common cold. It is more likely that burning down rain forests in Brazil or melting the glaciers has caused this virus to spread widely. There is a plethora of evidence-based literature about these phenomena. I encourage you to read them.
Myth: When vaccinated they directly inject you with the Coronavirus.
FACT: Although many immunizations have some strain of a weakened or inactivated virus, this immunization does not. It is actually mRNA, Messenger Ribonucleic Acid. This molecule is present in all living cells. It carries instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins. Think of it this way "DNA makes RNA make proteins."
It's pretty cool what happens once the mRNA is injected into your body. The mRNA tells our cells to create a harmless spike protein. This spike protein mimics the Coronavirus and displays it on our cells. Our immune system recognizes it as an intruder and builds an immune response against it, so the next time it sees it (if we are unlucky enough to get the virus), it will know how to defeat it.
Myth: The FDA is using us as Guinea Pigs for the vaccine.
FACT: The mRNA immunization has been tested under rigorous conditions and on thousands of human subjects. Phizer had 43,000 and Moderna had 30,400 study participants for Phase 3 trials. The study information for Phizer can be found at this link, and Moderna's can be found here.
This vaccine was developed under Emergency Use Authorization that allows the manufacturers of the vaccine to facilitate the availability of vaccines or other medical devices to fight disease. Prior to approval and release to the masses, the FDA reviews all of the scientific information available then decides if there is enough proof about its efficacy and safety.
Myth: Bill Gates is trying to turn us into Zombies (by vaccinating us with tracking devices).
FACT: I have no idea where this one came from, but there are people who literally believe it. There were also people who believed in the Nazi's hate theory that Aryans were superior to all others, ending in the destruction of 6 million people. I don't even know what to say about this Bill Gate's theory except it's patently untrue. His foundation has donated millions of dollars to Coronavirus Vaccine and treatment research. Good on him.
Myth: The Coronavirus vaccine kills people.
FACT: Can we establish a causal relationship between the injection of the vaccine with death? No, not according to science. A large body of evidence shows that vaccinations are safe. There have been deaths and reactions after getting vaccinations, but not enough to stop the majority of people from receiving them. There are warnings, for people with certain conditions, to avoid the Covid vaccine. This should not stop the majority from taking it.
Antibiotics might have adverse effects on some people, but think about this, prior to the advent of the antibiotic, the average life expectancy was about 47 years. Communicable diseases, were in fact, the leading cause of death in our country prior to the discovery of antibiotics.
Full disclosure. I have been vaccinated against the Coronavirus with the Pfizer vaccine. I felt a little run down after the first dose and then really sick after the second. I had chills, aches, pains, and was lethargic. That lasted a day. The benefit outweighs the risk in my mind. The biggest win of having taken the vaccine is that I am now 95% protected against getting Covid-19. I will still wear a mask and social distance because the risk of passing it to others is still high.
Now China has created their own conspiracy theories about the origins of the Coronavirus and the safety of the vaccination. This might be payback for all of the smack talk about the "China Flu" and the Wuhan Virus," or it might a way to deflect criticism leveled against the Chinese government. Whatever the case might be it is putting doubt in the minds of the Chinese people regarding the efficacy of the vaccine.
Deep-seated disbelief in the vaccine, whether in China, Europe, or the United States, can and will, cause this virus to continue to mutate until we can't control it. More people will get sick and more lives will be lost.
My advice to anyone that cares to read this is to do your own research and stop following stories on social media. The only way to find factual information is to look for it. Are the studies peer-reviewed, are they scholarly, or are they just someone's opinion?
Having the Corona Virus vaccine beats not having it. I bet the 2.13 million folks who died and the family and friends they have left behind would agree with me.
If you have the opportunity, get vaccinated. The life you save may be your own.