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Vaccine fear-mongering spreading

Vaccine fear-mongering spreading

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As countries in the Caribbean step up the campaign to vaccinate their populations against the deadly coronavirus threat, they now have to combat a campaign against vaccinations. There are some for a variety of reasons including personal and religious, but especially those who use the social media to create doubt and sow fear make it more difficult to win over the population and ensure its safety.

They have obtained allies in unexpected quarters with the decision of a few European countries, but influential ones nonetheless to halt the use of the Astrazaneca vaccine, alleging reports linking this vaccine to blood clots in persons who have been so vaccinated. The news of this can only heighten fears among persons in these parts already subjected to anti-vaccine propaganda and make the tasks of our health personnel all the harder.

Yet facts present a very different story. It has been established that globally, the trend is that new cases of the COVID -19 have been declining sharply in countries where a significant portion of their population has been vaccinated. Thus far, over 380 million vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, roughly 5 doses for every 100 persons on earth.

There are of course wide disparities nationally as rich nations have cornered the lion’s share of the vaccines. Israel heads the vaccination rate with nearly half (48%) of its population fully vaccinated and 59% in all having received at least a first shot. The Israeli figures do not take account of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza.

The USA leads in the number of vaccinated so far (109 million) with other notable numbers from China (64 million), India (33 million), the UK (26 million), Turkey and Brazil, each with over 11 million. In all cases the rate of decline of infections correlates to the rate of vaccinations.

Yet curiously in Europe, a continent where the virus has high death tolls, some countries, including France and Germany and some Scandinavian ones have suspended the use of the Astrazaneca vaccine claiming concerns about the possible link to blood clots. Yet these same countries have admitted that there is no clear evidence to support the fears.

The European continent has been largely under some form of lockdown for over a year and patience is growing thin. There have been protests in a number of cities and campaigns against vaccination campaigns. Facts do not count as much in such an atmosphere and the western concept of individual rights contributes significantly to the protest movement. A survey in the journal Nature Medicine for instance, shows that whereas 89 % of persons in China indicated that they would take a vaccine if it is proven safe and effective, in Germany and France, the percentages were 68% and 59% respectively.

It is important for people in countries like ours to follow the facts and ignore the propaganda. The safety of our people come before all else.

Renwick Rose