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Recent poll suggests many persons reject idea of taking Covid vaccine

Recent poll suggests many persons reject idea of taking Covid vaccine
Left to Right: Dr Jerrol Thompson & Dr Darlene Omeir

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by Katherine Renton

While a recent poll suggests that many Vincentians are unwilling to take a Covid-19 vaccine, medical professionals continue to encourage that it is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Earlier this week, on our Facebook page, SEARCHLIGHT asked persons if they would be willing to be vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to them. The unscientific poll reveals that of 72 persons, 42 or 58.3 per cent expressly rejected the idea.

On the other hand, 34.7 per cent or 25 individuals said that they would take the vaccine. However, at least seven of these individuals indicated a preference for Sputnik V, while one indicated that they wanted to take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Five persons or 6.9 per cent show uncertainty.

One person commented “Nope why take it and you can still can get the virus, and it is still also under trial.”

Another reasoned, “I’ll take the Sputnik V. It has proven itself to be an efficacious (91%) and effective vaccine…. Even the naysayers (Western aligned countries) have come to voice as much.”

Others questioned why take the vaccine when they aren’t sick, others worry about the side effects and some are of the opinion that the vaccines are useless.

Some who said they would take the vaccines cited the deaths caused by Covid-19, and the protection of their family.

Infectious disease specialist Dr Jerrol Thompson, and Dr Darlene Omeir, Family Health Advisor for the Pan American Health Organization(PAHO) and the World Health Organization(WHO) in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Islands, covered some of these concerns during an episode of the Round Table Talk this Wednesday.

Omeir tackled a question on how the vaccines are made. She indicated that there are three types of vaccines: one made from the virus itself but inactivated so it cannot produce sickness, one made from parts of the virus, and a final one made from the genetic component of the virus.

“…At the end, what the target is, is to have the body exposed to some form of the virus so that the body could believe it’s the virus and develop antigens,” she explained. This provides a defence mechanism for the body so that when the virus comes along, the body can react.

Thompson weighed in saying that he was impressed with the level of effectiveness of the vaccines, which have to pass a 50 per cent mark.

“… I had not expected it, but we’ve been seeing pass marks, we’ve been seeing efficacy rates of 95, 94, 92, 90 per cent in some vaccines,” he stated.

On the topic of the fast development of vaccines, Omeir revealed that one of the major factors is funding. “As opposed to many other vaccine research and medicine research etc, having funds is crucial to advance or to scale up anything,” she revealed, and the global COVAX facility, provided these funds to the vaccine manufacturers.

She also noted that vaccines require trials, and volunteers.

“…There were lots and lots of people queuing up to receive, to be part of the trials. So they easily met their trial target in much less time than other vaccines.”

She also revealed the stages of a vaccine. The doctor noted that there is a pre-clinical phase, “which is trials done in labs, in animals usually, and then once the safety of the vaccine is agreed then we go to the clinical trial which is in humans.”

“Usually all the safety issues are dealt in the pre-clinical trial,” she said, and the clinical trials are focused on efficiency.

Phases one, two and three are dependent on the amount of people involved in the trial.

“…rather than doing one, two and three in sequence, what was done is while we’re in phase one, simultaneously they were doing phase two and simultaneously they were doing phase three,” which saved a lot of time, Omeir noted.
She and Thompson expressed admiration for the techniques used in developing the vaccines.

“Development of Covid-19 vaccines and the technology used is going to go to history,” she said, “…I think this is a moment in change now for future vaccines because this has been incredible.”

Thompson noted that funding not only came from the COVAX facility, but from other sources at “warped speed”. “They’ve put 18 billion dollars into vaccine development and other countries have been developing their own,” he disclosed.

While many vaccines have dropped off the table, “those that have come forward, they have been quite, some of them, especially those at the top, have been quite unique” with different vaccines taking initiatives from the SARS, and Ebola outbreaks.

Importantly Coronavirus has a family, but the Covid-19 virus affecting the populace is a novel coronavirus.

In terms of combatting the mutations of the virus with the vaccine, Omeir informed “the more the virus is transmitted, the more the possibility it has of variating, and that’s why we’re facing now these challenges with various variants.”

Therefore, they say that stopping the transmission will reduce the likelihood of variants.

The vaccines may likely be less effective against the variants, because when they were developed the variants did not exist. However, she reiterated that the ideal thing to do would be to get vaccinated as it provides some level of protection, and if transmission is not stopped there may be more variants, and “then we’re gonna have another phase of the pandemic that I don’t want to think of.”

A question was posed on the AstraZeneca vaccine as it compares to Sputnik V. Thompson indicated that in his personal review he believes “Sputnik has a slightly added edge because it uses a kind of a double method.”

However, he said that there has been a substantial level of collaboration between the two, and concluded “…the Astra Zeneca is also good, matter fact I would say it’s also damn good.”

The doctor also tentatively remarked that he is looking forward to a day six months from now, when SVG reaches vaccination of 70 per cent of the population, which is the set mark for herd immunity.

“If we reach 70 per cent vaccination I see Carnival and those kinda things and I see Independence,” he posited, “…I see myself being able to hug somebody again, you know what I mean, as opposed to all the distancing we are doing.”

“…No doubt we have to keep on with our mask and so forth and washing hands,” he added, but “I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and I want everybody to join me.”

Omeir said that to get vaccinated is a personal decision, but “the vaccine is safe and, independent of the level of efficiency, whatever protection we can get from the vaccine we need it now.”

“Unfortunately, we cannot wait until the perfect vaccine comes out, that is not going to happen and once the issue of safety is solved, which we already solved, I think we should go for it,” she continued, noting that she will be first in line when it is available in her country.