By Michael Addai
In the face of this ever rapidly mutating highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus especially that of Delta and Alpha variants and the ever persistent threat posed to us all (whether vaccinated or unvaccinated) by this potential 3rd wave and possibly 4th wave as the pandemic rages on with its expected surges in cases, one is compelled to share one’s little knowledge on this subject to help others make an urgent informed decision vis à vis this pervasive phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy.
Why this vaccine hesitancy? No where to hide from this virus
One can definitely understand why this vaccine hesitancy is still out there despite all the warnings about this raging COVID-19 pandemic as one is not in the least surprised why well-meaning individuals are getting confused about getting the vaccine especially in the midst of all these contradictory statements and proclamations coming from a tiny minority but vociferous individuals from certain scientific and religious communities who are supposed to know better but are choosing to misuse scientific data to promote their own selfish agenda with fervent religious zealousness and favour. Adding to this confusion is this uncertainty/reluctance from certain minority communities in getting vaccinated as a result of genuine fear from well-founded historical reasons and legitimate concerns, which is understandable.
However, whether you are hesitant or not, whether you have legitimate concerns or not, this virus will still find you wherever you are with its ever rapidly mutating variants either you are vaccinated or not. Even if you have been lucky enough, so far, to live in a bubble, it, increasingly, appears there is no where to hide from this virus really and so, the ultimate question is; will you be able to survive it when this virus finally finds you without your vaccination?
Side effects are normal signs
From what it is known in simple terms, anything that goes into the body has its own side effects on the body. This assertion can be extrapolated to our every day needs e.g. food, water, gases, medicine or anything that gets into the body like microorganisms, radiations, smoke etc. etc. The body sees this stuff going into the body as an invading foreign material that needs to be conquered and subdued, and as such it marshals all available tools or resources to combat or defend against these foreign matters hence the body’s response in various forms.
Some of these responses are elicited/triggered by the body’s biological systems or mechanisms to produce chemicals/proteins e.g. hormones or antibodies to achieve this noble aim. For most part, these responses by the body’s biological machine with their corresponding side effects are generally good for our well-being and that keeps us alive and healthy. Nevertheless, in certain situations these responses can be detrimental or deadly to our well-being when the body overreacts and over-corrects itself resulting in e.g. allergies, inflammations, cancerous cells etc. etc. In all, side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection.
What at all is this mRNA and why the use of this mRNA technology?
Now, for the body to respond to anything or defend itself against any foreign invasion it needs to be instructed (or has to receive/get directives from) by the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) — the genetic constitution of the body that makes us who we are as specific distinctive individuals — which is inside the body engine called the nucleus that controls the body. This instruction/directive in the form of information/message needs to be carried/transmitted/passed on/relayed by another genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to an area of the target cells called ribosome for it to be transcribed/translated or acted upon. There are different types of this kind of genetic material i.e. RNAs (Ribonucleic acids) e.g. mRNAs, tRNAs, rRNAs in the body that are specific for a particular purpose/job and in this instance the specific one of interest is the mRNA.
To wit, it’s the mRNA that transmits/carries/transports the genetic information/directive/instruction/message from the DNA to the cells’ ribosomes to be transcribed/translated into a protein/chemical in order for the body to respond to any stimulus. By the way, when the mRNA gets into the ribosomes of the target cells with the specific genetic information/instructions, it is the tRNA (transfer RNA) that decodes/transfers/assembles the genetic ingredients for the rRNA (ribosomal RNA) to synthesize/make this protein response in the ribosomes.
As such, due to the precarious nature of the coronavirus, particularly that of COVID-19 virus which is a new strand from the coronavirus family, the normal familiar vaccine making technology couldn’t suffice that much initially. Mind you scientists have been at it for a long time in finding a vaccine for the coronavirus family since SARS and MERS emerged in the 1990s and 2000s.
The normal vaccination/immunization/inoculation concept (which originated from Africa, by the way, that’s now been fine-tuned and perfected into a nice technology) employs the use of de-natured/dead/inactive/weakened version/form of the protein (antigen) from the causative agent causing disease to be vaccinated/inoculated into the body to elicit an immune response. In other words, the body responds in producing specific antibodies against this invading inactive protein (antigen) and it doesn’t stop there but saves the genetic nature of this protein in its memory, so next time a protein like that enters the body it recognizes it quickly and produces similar antibodies to fight it immediately, thus the immune response.
The constituents of the various vaccines available for vaccinations to combat this pandemic
As said earlier, the use of this normal familiar vaccine technology hasn’t been that much successful in terms of speed with this COVID-19 virus hence the use of mRNA technology which has been found to be super efficient in this case to deliver the same message/information/instruction of the spike protein of this coronavirus directly to the body to produce a small amount of the spike protein to elicit same immune response. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines employ this technology that requires the vaccines to be kept in very low freezing temperatures.
In addition, the beauty of science is that it doesn’t stop improving and there is always a constant search for perfection/improvements. Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines seem to employ the familiar normal viral vector vaccine technology to improve the vaccine temperature requirements but at a great ethical cost, apparently. That’s to say, they use the cell-line of aborted foetuses to modify the adenovirus (cold virus) to look like coronavirus which is used as the vaccines hence the ability to store at high temperatures. Perhaps nothing lost, nothing gained here as something has to give in order to gain something valuable here to save more lives, I suppose. Novavax vaccine, on the other hand, uses another normal familiar protein-subunit approach to induce the same immune response in the body with great stunning trial results.
Public sharing of data collection of the vaccines
Another beauty of all this is that data collection of all these vaccines above is being shared publicly, openly, transparently and they are routinely verified, reviewed, assessed and decisions made on them because they were authorized under emergency use. That’s why certain countries in Europe were able to halt the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines for the time being in order to assess the reports of alleged side effects of this vaccine use even though no link had yet been established then between the vaccines and the alleged side effects. (Be mindful though of the geopolitics going on at that moment between Europe and the U.K). The same transparency and openness were exercised on the Johnson & Johnson vaccines when concerns were raised.
It must also be added here that even though one is all for vaccines but when it comes to the Russian and Chinese vaccines, in this instance, one should be a bit skeptical as a result of their lack of openness and transparency with their data collection because they are not being shared publicly and openly for peer review, assessment and verification of any side effects with respect to the body’s immune response. They cannot just expect the world, especially the desperate countries, to trust them with their mere assurances, particularly when one takes into consideration their well-known penchant for secrecy and suppression of facts with their use of communist inferior tactics. It’s just unfortunate that there will always be an air of skepticism about these vaccines, adding to the vaccine hesitancy until they change their attitude towards shared, public and transparent data collection and subjecting them to peer review and analysis.
Also, we have to be aware and vigilant about individuals who might be right in their scientific analysis of the science underpinning these various vaccines but are using these openly, transparent scientific data coming out of these vaccination programmes to deceive the public by twisting the facts of the side effects and making unfounded allegations about them for their own anti-vaccination agenda and propaganda. These people are mostly aided and abetted in right wing conservative fora, media, platforms and circles to spew these conspiracy theories. They should vehemently be opposed and disagreed with.
Overall be rest assured that these vaccines are safe
Interestingly, worst things were said about the previous vaccines like measles, polio, yellow fever, diphtheria etc. etc. but they have almost helped to wipe out these diseases on the face of this earth. Even worse things were said about the GM (genetically-modified) foods and, so far, there is no proven scientific detrimental doomsday of GM’s side effects yet.
In conclusion, the vaccines are safe to use (well…with the exception so far of the Russian, Chinese and other vaccines until the data is publicly shared and proven otherwise). So, let’s all be rest assured that if there were ever any untoward side effects we would eventually get to know about them, just as the Europeans and Ghanaians are doing now.
The mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA nor do they create ‘genetically modified human beings’ neither are the other vaccines available period. Therefore, shake yourself from your vaccine hesitancy and go for your jabs if you are privileged enough to have the opportunity to avoid this virus finding you unguarded.
Disclaimer: — I duly stand to be corrected on the scientific claims made here. I hope I’ve been able to explain things easier and not heap on more confusion to those interested in seeking clarification.
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