Addressing Vaccine Misinformation and Lies
As more and more people receive their first or even their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are still those who are hesitating to get vaccinated. This may be because of misinformation they have heard, read or been told. Inaccurate information regarding the vaccines is a real challenge – and there have been multiple sources. Some of it came from the vaccine being politicized and some came from well-intentioned people who didn’t have the facts. Other elements of misinformation and lies have been tracked to Russian campaigns (you can read about this here). We also live in a world where many, many people only hear what they already believe – and information in their own news bubble or filter bubble that validates their opinions or ideas is also to blame.
John Hopkins Medicine, a well-respected medical facility, has an article that debunks many of the most common myths, misinformation and outright lies.
The fact that scientists were able to accelerate their work in order to develop vaccines against COVID-19 is a spectacular achievement. It is something that will be recorded in the history books as one of this century’s most important accomplishments. Technology helped to facilitate the global partnerships that were necessary to succeed – and the world of medicine will be better for what was learned as the vaccines were developed and clinical trials were undertaken. Unfortunately, for some people, the fact that the scientific community was able to move quickly (out of necessity), allows them to sow doubt about the safety or efficacy of the vaccines. In fact, the vaccines went through a rigorous process to ensure that they are safe and effective. No corners were cut to do this. The BC Centre for Disease Control offers some information on this – showing how detailed the clinical trials were and what the data shows. John Hopkins Medicine also shares useful information on this topic.
A lot of detail went into ensuring that all the approved vaccines are safe and effective. We can look, for example, at the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine COMIRNATY®, which uses the Acuitas lipid nanoparticle delivery technology.
BioNTech and Pfizer met or exceeded the safety standards, as set out by regulatory agencies around the world. They sought regulatory approval or Emergency Use Authorization only after demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in a Phase 3 study designed and conducted in accordance with the requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as the FDA.
The BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is based on mRNA technology, which codes for a protein made by the novel coronavirus. The vaccine works by allowing the human immune system to recognize this protein so that it can prevent the virus from infecting our cells and causing disease.
A major advantage of mRNA vaccines over conventional vaccines is that they can be developed more rapidly in response to a new virus.
You can find a comprehensive description of the BioNTech/Pfizer Phase 3 clinical results in a scientific publication published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For the world to get back to some sense of normalcy, it is crucial that as many people as possible get vaccinated. For that to happen, we all need to fight misinformation and lies about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. We encourage everyone to share verified, accurate information about the vaccine on their social media accounts and to respectfully push back on the people in your circle who share inaccurate information. Getting our communities back to normal and keeping our loved ones safe and healthy is all of our responsibility – and when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, the real threat is misinformation.