The vaccine that many scientists around the world have been developing has now finally arrived. After 10 months since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world and plunged us into social, political and economic turmoil we now have an effective cure.
The way it spread across the world from Wuhan in Hubei Province, China has created the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918. So far over 1.4 million people have died from the virus and economic misery has crippled the world mentally and productively. I remember going to Romford after lockdown was declared in March and the whole market and town centre was completely deserted like a ghost town. It felt bewildering to see it so silent and inactive.
In response to this the world’s biomedical organisations got to work studying the virus and developing a vaccine to cure the virus. Covid-19 had the same infection rate as the common cold and the flu, but it is a strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). There have been several strains of SARS in the past that have caused epidemics, but this type had a natural origin and comes from bats.
Since SARS viruses had been studied in the past there was already plenty of information for the scientists and doctors to go on to develop the cure. At least 200 companies in the field of medical research have been making them from across the world. At present, there are 59 in clinical research and 3 have recently completed testing and Phase 3 trials. Among them areOxford University and AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, and Moderna. Pfizer-BioNTech has become the first to be approved for use and distribution on the NHS.
All of these vaccine makers have made them capable of making our bodies resistant to the virus. The Pfizer-BioNTechvaccine works as an mRNA jab, which when introduced into the body, gives the body instructions to make the ‘spike’ protein of the virus. mRNA is known in molecular biology as messenger RNA, a type of molecule that gives the body a set of genetic instructions to synthesize a protein. In this case, it tells the body to make a Covid protein. This then triggers the immune system to respond and learn how to fight the virus using T cells and antibodies.
Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine is still undergoing approval testing but is designed differently to that of Pfizer-BioNTech. This one is based on a modified version of a common cold virus that affects chimpanzees. When injected into humans it triggers the immune system to respond and fight the virus. The major difference between the two is that this one requires to be taken in two doses and can be stored at temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius. This a big advantage over the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that needs to be kept at minus 75 degree Celsius, which means it needs special fridges to transport it. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has also been developed with technology that was used to defeat Zika, flu and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
The news of the vaccines has been widely praised by the government and the public, especially around Havering which has been in two lockdowns and had an infection surge in August-September. There is some scepticism from people who are mistrusting of vaccines. Especially since this one was rushed through into it’s making. One can understand this being that we had no cure to treat Covid-19 and so it had to be rushed to get out of the frustrations put on them by the lockdowns and social distancing measures. But advances in medical science mean that some drugs can work without going through so many years of testing.
I have dealt with arguments against vaccines in the past and I can tell you that if I had Covid-19 then I would take the vaccine for my own good. This vaccine is safe to use, and it has been proven to be very effective to cure Coronavirus. However, if I had a choice of vaccines, I would go for AstraZeneca’s vaccine because the technology that was used for it has a much longer proven record of safety. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA and does have a lot more strength in combating a wide variety of diseases. It’s research has been going on 40 years and it does have a lot of good promises, but it’s never on the medicine market before.
I am an autistic man and a disability advocate whose disability culture has been tainted by the anti-vax movement. Conspiracies are circulating online about the harmful effects of vaccines and even more bizarre claims that they contain microchips that will be used to control people. This is absolute nonsense and these people are doing so much harm to people by discrediting an instrument of science that has saved millions of lives. Vaccines do not cause autism, and they are not even capable of hurting people through the chemicals and ingredients of the vaccines or the needles themselves. The people that push this narrative are causing more deaths than the diseases themselves.
The biggest anti-vaxxer scandal in the autism community was the 1998 MMR jab being linked to causing autism. The man who put this theory out was Dr Andrew Wakefield, a child gastrointestinal surgeon and researcher. In 1998 he published a paper in the Lancet about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This discovery was hyped in the media creating a scare story that led to a big mistrust in vaccines, which lead to a rise in cases in measles, mumps and rubella amongst children. Experts that questioned Wakefield’s findings were unfairly chastised as being dangerous. But what the media didn’t bother to question was the research behind the paper and that made me really angry. All they were interested in was a scare story with emphasis on pseudo-science and making autism out to be a neurological disease.
Later in 2004, it had been revealed that Wakefield did not do his research properly and there was a conflict of interests. He had tested his theory on just 12 children, and their parents were part of legal action against an MMR manufacturer that Wakefield had been recruited to support two years earlier. Their lawyers paid Wakefield over £400,000 for his services. When the story broke the media didn’t pay much attention or state a memorandum that they misled the public and they ran the MMR jab on a groundless scare story. Not even apologise to the autism community for framing their condition in this manner. The Lancet retracted the paper and Wakefield was barred from practising medicine in 2010. He now works for a private company in America and has produced documentaries on anti-vaxxers and continues to push this false narrative creating many more deaths from untreated diseases.
My hope for the future now that we have found the vaccine is that Covid-19 will go away. In effect, we can all go back to normal and live our lives safely with full protection. But I still don’t feel happy about the cause and effect of the Coronavirus. I would like to see the Chinese Communist Party and the virologists in Wuhan to be tried for their carelessness.They kept the world in the dark about the effects of the virus and in doing so caused worldwide stagnation and chaos. This pandemic has caused massive mistrust from the world for the People’s Republic of China.