COVID-19 Vaccine Safety, Effectiveness ProvenBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:05
Misinformation has been triggering fear and doubts around the COVID-19 vaccines. Public confidence on the vaccine is around 50 percent, according to the World Economic Forum WEF). Hesitation around vaccines is stronger depending on the country. However, hard facts show that they prevent the deaths of 3 million people per year.
Vaccines have been able to reduce incidence of diseases like polio by 99 percent and have eradicated other diseases such as smallpox. Moreover, they avoid mass disease spreading as the ensure herd immunity. Vaccines have reduced death rates, as well. In the case of measles in Africa, between 2000-2008, vaccination reduced the death toll by 92 percent. For children, vaccines are even more critical as they guarantee survival under five years of age in cases of rotavirus and pneumonia.
Industry leaders have risen their voice to encourage confidence on the recent vaccine developments by sharing scientific facts to prove safety and efficacy. During Mexico Health Summit 2020/21, Yolanda Cervantes, Vaccine Medical Director at GSK Mexico, stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine was not the result of a month’s worth research but that it derived from endless decades of research of many pharmaceutical companies combined. “The industry has around 10 technology platforms running for vaccine development. This accelerated results,” said Cervantes.
Mario Sturion, Managing Director of Janssen Mexico said technology also played a critical role in enhancing development capacities, as it facilitates information sharing and finding. Moreover, Sturion said this is a process that should not be rushed. “Development takes its given time and that is what has enabled the current vaccines.” Had Janssen not previously invested time and resources in developments for Zika or HIV, its current development to tackle the SARS-COV-2 virus would not be available to date.
WEF’s survey on vaccine confidence, shows a 77 percent confidence rate on the COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico, which is fairly high compared to countries like France where the rate is 40 percent. China shows the highest confidence rate with an 80 percent positive response. According to the findings, the main reason why people hesitate is the potential side effect, which represent around 80 percent of the responses. Doubts about vaccine efficacy also ranked considerably high in Mexico, compared to other countries.
But, how can the sector effectively promote vaccine awareness? Sturion said it is important to implement strategies in close collaboration with government and local institutions. “This is an important step to bust fake news and spread the benefits of a solid, safe scientific background from decades-old pharmaceutical companies that have already tested treatments and vaccines in the market.”
A study by Science Direct also points at social media as a powerful ally to boost vaccination efforts. “Vaccine misinformation circulation on social media can negatively influence vaccine attitudes. It is urgent to develop communication approaches to reduce this impact.”