Covid-Vaccines, let’s clear up some doubts!

  The holy grail of medical research in 2020 is finally here. Pharmaceutical companies have apparently developed an effective vaccine against Covid; this is a great result showing the wonders of modern medicine. But all the hope and joy that such an event was seeming to bring have been replaced by the doubts and questions which have been growing inside our minds for months now.  Is it effective? Which are the contraindications? Should it be mandatory? Who will be prioritized, and will the productive capacity reach the demand?  Some of these questions are finding answers, some others take more time and effort. Let’s start by the object of the discussion: the VACCINES. After months in research and testing, the second half of November has witnessed the sprouting of announcements from various pharmaceutical companies which have created a working vaccine.  The first one was announced by the partnership Pfizer-BioNTech, respectively an American and a German company. They stated that their vaccine had an effectiveness of 95% on a sample of 43.500 people. It will cost around 28€, a challenge posed by this vaccine is that as of now it requires a storing temperature of -70 C°, which is not reached by conventional refrigerated trucks. Being the first one in the research race, Pfizer has also achieved the certification of safety from the FDA. The second one was announced by Moderna, an American company; its vaccine had an effectiveness of 94.5% on a sample of 30.000 individuals. As of now this vaccine will cost a little bit less, 22€, and will require higher storing temperatures, in line with common refrigerated trucks, between -2° and -8°. The authorization of safety from the FDA is expected to come on the 11th of December. The third one was created by the English company AstraZeneca, in collaboration with Oxford University. Its results have yet to be published officially, but it claims to be able to reach an effectiveness of 90%. The upside of this vaccine is surely the price, at 2.80€, with storing temperature requirements similar to those of Moderna.  All the three vaccines will be administered in two different phases, with a gap of 28 days between the two doses. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced on the 24th of November plans to get 160 million doses from Moderna which will be distributed in all the member states. Regarding Italy, the government is making a plan to distribute the Pfizer vaccine , of which 3.4 million doses have already been booked, starting from January 2021.  Now that the vaccine is being produced and released and that the various nations are getting the doses, it would be natural to think that citizens will start to get vaccinated to protect themselves and put a stop to the pandemic, but are people willing to get vaccinated? The development phase of the vaccine was accompanied by a blind fate that people would automatically vaccinate themselves to be protected against Covid. After all, during the latest months, the scientific community has agreed that only the vaccine will  give us the possibility to come back to normality once again.  Apparently, even if there is scientific consensus and the vaccines are rapidly going through the safety certification processes, the common sentiment, at least in the Italian population, is that the vaccine is not completely safe and up to 33% of the population isn’t willing to get vaccinated. This is the crude reality that science has to face; since the vaccination is voluntary, people cannot be forced and, if the vaccine doesn’t cover a big enough portion of the population, it will be completely pointless. Studies during the summer have  shown that about 25% of the population wasn’t planning to take the vaccine, with parts of this group not believing in vaccines in general and others believing that it is too early to get an effective one.  Even more recent polls, supported by the announcements of the vaccines by the various firms, have shown that Italians haven’t changed their mind; about 35% of the population will not take the vaccine, while 15% hasn’t yet decided.  These are shocking results which, if true, would entail a huge problem because the effectiveness of this action is directly proportional to the number of people getting vaccinated. The reasons for such reluctance towards the vaccines aren’t yet clear, but one might point out that the communication from the technical committee during these months hasn’t been coherent and uniform, some doctors have warned about the deadliness of Covid, while others have diminished the real threat. The origin of the virus isn’t yet clear and there is a continuous discussion in the scientific community that fuels stress and confusion into the general public. To have an empirical test is sufficient to check on Facebook and YouTube the amount of conspiracy theories that have been published, all containing a different mix of “5G, Bill Gates, The new world order”; even if most of us know that they are completely made up and profit on the type of algorithm of social media, they spread really quickly and influence the decision process of the people. Covid has given a huge hit to our society, the rush to develop an effective vaccine has involved huge companies and some of the brightest minds in the medical sector. Now  that vaccines are in the final stage of development, we are realizing the cold truth: facts and statistics of effectiveness don’t matter when the lives of people are on the line and they have lost some faith by seeing the medical community struggle to even decide if this virus is lethal or not. We should close the gap between the scientific community and the general public so that when new trust is found between the two parties we might meet up in a bar, after 6 pm and take a beer altogether without worrying about masks, sanitizers and droplets in the air.   
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