The Covid-19 Vaccine Breakthrough 

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Simone Schwartz and Eloise Gordon

“I’m anxious not to be in captivity.” These words spoken by 81 year old interviewee Francoise Strauss perfectly depict the feelings of billions of people all across the world. As the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become more promising day by day, it has many people wondering, is my time in captivity coming to an end soon? While the upcoming release of the vaccine is exciting, it has potential to cause a lot of stress and conflict. The arrival of the vaccine will force us to answer questions such as who should get the vaccine first? Are people going to refuse to get the vaccine? Are there dangerous side effects of the vaccine? And so many more.

 

The developments of the vaccine

Currently, Pfizer and BioNtech are in phase 3 of clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, which is one of the final stages of testing. So far, about 44,000 people have been given the vaccine and no concerns or irregularities have been reported. Half of those participants were given the vaccine, while the other half were given a placebo of salt water. Only 94 out of those 44,000 have tested positive for COVID-19.  

It is an RNA vaccine, which involves an injection of the virus’s genetic code into the immune system. The vaccine causes the patient to build up antibodies to the virus in order to develop immunity and help fight off infection.

 

Will people want to take the vaccine once it’s available?

Once the vaccine is released to the public, there are many people with conflicting opinions about what they will feel comfortable doing after being injected and whether they feel comfortable being injected at all. 

Francoise Strauss told me that not only would she get the vaccine the second it was released, she would feel comfortable returning to complete normalcy after getting the vaccine. To her, that would consist of traveling, seeing family that she hasn’t seen in months, even considering not wearing a face mask. With the release of every vaccine, comes people that do not want to take it. According to infection control today, 45 percent of surveyed American adults doubt vaccine safety. With the COVID vaccine release there comes additional fears. Unfortunately, while the reasoning behind the release of the COVID-19 vaccine is to help save lives, boost the economy, and return back to pre-COVID life, there is another very big reason. Money. 

When asked whether or not students would want to take the vaccine when authorized to the public, a 10th grade student stated, “I would want to take the vaccine if it would follow safety guidelines and if it was proved that the vaccine doesn’t have side effects.”

Ever since we first heard about the novel coronavirus thousands of scientists have been rushing to create a vaccine. Yes to help save lives but also for financial reasons. The first scientists to release the vaccine will be the ones to make the most money off of it. Scientists make money off of vaccines by selling it to companies and various distributors. If the first vaccines released are successful and actively preventing the spread of the coronavirus, why would companies and distributors want to purchase another kind of vaccine when there’s already one that works? To many, scientists focusing on making money off of the vaccine over saving lives off of the vaccine is very worrisome. 

Rachel Chai, a Registered Nurse who has worked in clinical trials for the past ten years stated, “I am very much in support of the clinical trials. Dr. Fauci was speaking about this and I’m certainly in the same line of thinking that Pfizer is a very well established pharmaceutical company and have checkpoints that they need to follow in order for the vaccine to be approved. This vaccine is no exception.”

Should the COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?

Although the Pfizer & BioNtech vaccine may become available to the public before the end of the year, over a third of Americans, 35%, say that they would not get a free, FDA approved vaccine if it were ready today, according to a survey by Gallup. 

“You don’t want to enforce something on someone because that takes away their sovereignty but you also don’t want to get other people sick. There’s a balance and we need more information and once we get more information it will be easier to make the decision. I don’t think we can do anything about it yet until we have the proper clinical trials and proper factual information about the vaccines,” offered tenth grader Mirella B.

  “It would depend on the (infection) rate in a particular area…For public health reasons, other vaccines for childhood viruses like measles are required. Since there are already mandatory vaccines I would be in support of that,” said Rachel Chai, a Registered Nurse in response to whether or not we should mandate Covid-19 vaccinations. 

Will the vaccine be a cure?

Once the vaccine becomes authorized and available to the public, will this be an invitation to stop wearing masks and social distancing?

As of right now, the vaccine is not a cure, but rather a treatment that is meant to cause people to build up immunity to the virus.

 “We definitely need to continue [social distancing],” Chai said. “Hopefully, with a national, cohesive message about masking, that will become less of a debated issue and more just part of normal life. Also with the winter coming, there could be an increase in viral transmission with people spending more time in close contact inside in the winter, so it’s that much more important actually to wear masks.”

Authorization of the vaccine is not an invitation to stop wearing masks or social distancing. In fact, since there is now a surge in cases throughout the country and with winter just around the corner, we could be seeing a more intense spike. Even if the vaccine is authorized by the end of the year, only a small percentage of the public will be able to receive it. A majority of health experts predict that any vaccine that is proven to be effective will not be administered to a majority of the public until next year. Currently, there is no evidence proving that a vaccine will mitigate asymptomatic spread of the virus, or to what extent the vaccine will prevent severe cases of COVID-19. Therefore, it’s important to not change our attitude about masks and social distancing even if and when the vaccine becomes authorized.