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Information About Vaccinations
by Hyejun Lee | 승인 2021.02.27 13:41|(267호)

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Since Covid-19 has become part of our lives, many restrictions have been introduced, and lots of quarrels have followed. Thus, people who have been social distancing well and doing their best not to harm medical staff are at risk of mental health problems, known as Corona Blue or Corona Red. Many people have reached their limit, so they are likely to be cranky and sensitive. There are numerous causes of stress during this pandemic, and a natural concomitant of stress is that we may become irrational or illogical. However, whatever the situation is, or however one feels, we need access to reliable information.

Fortunately, encouraging news has arrived. In early December, a Covid-19 vaccine was administered by the National Health Service (NHS) in England. It is hopeful news indeed, but arguments are arising about whether the vaccination is safe or not. Some insist that the first vaccine might not be reliable, so it would be better for Korea to wait until a perfect vaccine without any side effects, including flu-like symptoms, has been developed. In fact, many people in each country say that they will not receive the vaccine. Opposing that view, medical authorities have stated categorically that this is the time people should consider public health more important than an individual’s freedom. Therefore, a controversial issue has arisen.

At present, there are three groups of people with different attitudes toward vaccines: those who actively want to be vaccinated, those who hold a wait-and-see attitude, and a number of people who are opposed or unwilling to get vaccinated. People's willingness to get vaccinated is often closely related to the severity of an epidemic in the country and region where they live. People will weigh the risks associated with a new vaccine against any possible harm caused by the pandemic. Therefore, people will consider the risk-benefit ratio of receiving a vaccination. For example, in countries where the new coronavirus pandemic is not particularly serious or has been effectively controlled, the occasional outbreak and low incidence of Covid-19 have resulted in a relatively lower benefit-to-risk ratio of receiving the vaccination. On the contrary, people in countries and regions where the pandemic is becoming more serious are more willing to be vaccinated.

Although Covid-19 vaccines are being mass-produced, there are still some problems. Firstly, the production capacity is relatively low. Even though countries around the world are actively developing vaccines and increasing their production capacity, there is still a huge gap between the supply of vaccines and demand. Second, the vaccine administration procedure is problematic. As people start to be vaccinated, new problems have arisen. Those responsible for administering the vaccine need to be well trained. Recently, there was a problem in the U.S. when the vaccine, which should have been diluted into five parts, was mistakenly diluted into six parts. Third, the protection period of the vaccine is uncertain. Clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines were short, so it is impossible to say exactly how long somebody will remain protected. According to current data, protection should last more than half a year, but more data and time are needed to verify the specific period of protection. Judging by past situations, the protection period of the vaccine is not likely to be much longer than one year. This poses an important question: What if the first group of people to be vaccinated is no longer protected before the last group of people receives the vaccination? Fourth, after people are vaccinated, it does not mean that they cannot be infected. The vaccine does not offer 100 percent protection; the highest efficacy rate is currently 95 percent. People who have been vaccinated may also be infected just like those who never received a vaccine. Even asymptomatic infections are contagious. To sum up, although the vaccination has begun to be mass-produced and there is a hope in the fight against COVID-19, the global pandemic may not be over any time soon.

Let’s see how other countries are planning to manage the vaccination.

The U.S.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, explained there are eight things to know about the Covid-19 vaccination. “1. The safety of Covid-19 vaccines is a top priority. 2. The Covid-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting Covid-19. Two doses are needed. 3. Right now, the CDC recommends that the Covid-19 vaccine be offered to healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. 4. There is currently a limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines in the United States, but the supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. 5. After receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, you may experience some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. 6. The cost is not an obstacle to getting vaccinated against Covid-19. 7. The first Covid-19 vaccine has been approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many other vaccines are still being developed and tested. 8. Covid-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us end this pandemic.” (Dec. 18, 2020)

U.K.: The U.K. was the first Western country to start administering the vaccination. The National Health Service (NHS) stated that “People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be the first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at high risk” (Dec. 6, 2020). Since they began their mass vaccination program, more than 137,000 people have received the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, which satisfied the strict standards of safety set out by the UK’s Independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine is administered in two doses, through an injection into the upper arm. However, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should wait to receive the vaccine until more information on the possible side effects is known. The side effects so far have mostly been mild and lasted shorter than a week. These have included headaches, feeling tired or achy, and a sore feeling in the arm where the injection was performed. The health department is recommending that people who suffer from allergic reactions do not receive the vaccine but continue to read the advice provided by the MHRA on the GOV.UK site.

China: On December 19, according to a press conference held by the State Council of China, there were no serious adverse reactions to the one million administered doses of China's new Covid-19 vaccine. The new vaccination is being rolled out in two steps. The first step is to inoculate key groups, including workers who are engaged in cold-chain imports, port quarantine, public transportation, medical disease control, and others at high risk of infection, and those who travel to medium-high-risk countries or people who go overseas to work or study. This will ease the pressure on the prevention and control of imported cases and reduce the risk of domestic outbreaks. The second step is that as vaccines are approved for marketing or the production of vaccines is gradually increased, more vaccines will be put into use. In this case, all eligible people can be vaccinated, gradually building an immune barrier among the population to block the spread of the coronavirus.

 

The BBC News chart shows comparisons of the Covid-19 vaccines.

First, the Oxford Uni-AstraZeneca vaccine is a type of viral vector, which is a genetically modified virus. The vaccine is 62-90 percent effective, and the cost per dose is $4. The second is Moderna’s RNA vaccine, which uses part of the virus’ genetic code. It is 95 percent effective, and the cost per dose is $33. The third is Pfizer-BioNTech’s RNA vaccine. It is 95 percent effective, and the cost per dose is $20. Last, Gamaleya’s viral vector vaccine is 92 percent effective, and the cost is $10 per dose.

Furthermore, Niall McCarthy, a data journalist, stated that “while most reports regarding potential Covid-19 vaccines have quite rightly focused on their efficacy, ease of distribution and cost are other key factors involved in a global rollout” (Dec1, 2020). Statista’s chart titled The Cost Per Jab Of Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates shows the reported costs of the following vaccine candidates: America’s mRNA-1273, which is simply called Moderna, China’s CoronaVac, America & Germany’s BNT162b2, Russia’s Gam-COVID-Vac Sputnik V, America & Belgium’s: JNJ-78436735, and the United Kingdom & Sweden’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019.

Holding a certain opinion without considering accurate information or data will most likely result in people following popular trends. The pandemic, during which many strict rules have been established, has lasted too long, causing people much stress; one belief is that people have lost the strength to ponder issues deeply. Furthermore, the massive amount of information may confuse the public. Nonetheless, we need to know concrete facts and establish our own values to make a better judgment. Examining data will strengthen our independent attitudes. Fear adversely affects people, leading them to simply follow others. Values differ person by person; therefore, we need to digest credible information and acquire knowledge to establish our own way of thinking.

 

Sources: 8 Things to Know about the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program | CDC, NHS England » Hospitals to start biggest ever NHS Vaccination Programme this week • Chart: The Cost Per Jab Of Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates | Statista

by Hyejun Lee  news@cnu.ac.kr

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