The UK is now in its fifth month of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. Over half of the nation has received the first vaccine, and nearly 30% of people are now fully vaccinated, making it one of the most fast-paced Coronavirus vaccination programs worldwide. Yet, some people are hesitant to take the vaccine, and it’s not surprising. With so much information available to us from thousands of sources, it’s hard to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. So we did some research and spoke to the local communities. We found out the most common misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccines and looked into them. Scroll down for our six most common myths about the vaccine and how you can debunk them.
Our COVID-19 Vaccine Myth Buster is available for download.
1. COVID-19 vaccines were rushed and are not safe.
The development of COVID-19 vaccines was fast-tracked but not rushed.
Many take longer to develop because the demand is less critical, and it’s harder to secure funding. COVID-19 is a member of the coronavirus family together with MERS, SARS and more. Therefore, there was previous research available that sped up the process.
Approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe. They had to go through three phases of detailed tests before licensing. After approval, vaccines entered Phase 4 – ongoing research. At the time of writing, there were 168 cases of blood clots reported for 21 million vaccinations. Although European Medicines Agency recommended including blood clots as a very rare side effect, the benefits still vastly outweigh the risks. To illustrate, people using common hormonal contraception pills have a more significant – 5 to 12 in 10,000 – chance of a blood clot.
2. The vaccine contains pork, foetal cells, eggs, alcohol, or microchips.
There are no human cells, pork, eggs, or microchips in the vaccines. The Vatican and the British Islamic Medical Association issued guidance permitting COVID-19 vaccines. Foetal cell lines have been used in the testing of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. These are not actual foetuses but organ cells harvested in the 1970s from dead embryos. They have also been used to develop other vaccines for Hepatitis A, Rubella, and more. The virus needs a living, ideally human cell to activate. Scientists inject the vaccine into the infected cell and see if it kills the virus or not. These cell lines also helped grow a viral vector for the AstraZeneca vaccine, but they are not present in the vaccine itself.
The AstraZeneca vaccine contains some alcohol – 0.002 g. That’s less than in many natural foods. There are also no microchips in the vaccines. Bill Gates stated on his blog that “eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.” He never talked about the vaccine but the testing records.
3. Coronavirus is not dangerous – it’s just like the flu.
Coronavirus is far more deadly than the flu. Not just for older people, but people of all ages. At the time of writing, 461,734 patients with Coronavirus were hospitalised. 19% of people with COVID-19 go to hospital compared to 2% of those with the flu. Office for National Statistics reports that in England and Wales between January and August 2020, there were 48,168 deaths due to (COVID-19) compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to influenza.
4. The COVID-19 vaccines will alter your DNA.
As the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with DNA. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain messenger RNA (mRNA), giving our bodies instructions to build the virus protection. It’s like when you want to make a delicious cake, like the one your friend made for you the other day. You have all the ingredients, but you don’t know how to bake it – so you ask for the recipe. In this analogy, mRNA is the recipe, and the vaccine is your friend. It does not even go into the centre part of the cell where we have our DNA.
5. The vaccine won’t work against the new strains.
All viruses mutate – that’s how they survive. In the case of COVID-19, scientists closely monitor two types of mutations: those that are more infectious and those that can evade vaccines. At the time of writing, both the UK Government and the European Medicines Agency report the growing evidence that the UK licensed vaccines protect against the existing variants, including the Indian strain.
Vaccines’ efficacy is continually assessed. We may find that the effect could lessen as more strains emerge over time. However, early vaccination of the population will drastically cut virus spread and reduce the presence of the original variant and the new variants.
6. Vaccines have only been tested on white people.
Historically, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people have been underrepresented in vaccination trials. As COVID-19 affects those communities more than white people, it’s even more critical to involve representatives from all communities. Pfizer’s Phase 2 and 3 tests included 9.8% of Black and 4.4% of Asian participants globally. Moderna had 9.7% Black and 4.7% of Asian participants. AstraZeneca US interim analysis included 8% black, 4% native American and 4% Asian, and 22% of Hispanic participants.