This Will Be The Final Challenge of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Today is August 25, 2020. The summer is coming to an end. A summer like no other in about a hundred years: where we couldn’t travel as we’d like, we couldn’t go to concerts as we used to, and we couldn’t socialize as we loved to. For many people, those things weren’t even the worst part. They lost their job during the lockdown, or even worst, they lost a loved one to the pandemic.
At this point, in most countries, the use of a mask is mandatory in closed spaces, and some of them even demand its use in any public space, inside or outside. In Europe, the first wave seems to have passed, but some countries are starting to see an increase in the daily new cases.
In terms of treatment, Remdesivir shows promising results but is still only being used for critical cases.
As of this date, there are six different vaccines in phase 3 of the clinical-stage, but Russia already announced that they registered a vaccine and that they will begin to use it as of this month.
China also stated that they began vaccinating doctors and border workers since July.
The European Union also reached an agreement with AstraZeneca for the purchase of 300 million doses of their vaccine, once it proves safe and effective.
Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, the latest news from the scientific community surely gives us hope for our lives to return to normal soon enough: there is a promising anti-viral to treat critical cases, and vaccines are starting to be delivered.
We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But will the development of treatment and a vaccine our last fight in this unprecedented pandemic? I don’t think so.
Bear in mind that this concerns my opinion and my opinion only. It lies in observations of the world around me, not necessarily in any prediction of the future.
Many People Won’t Want to Be Vaccinated
If we look back to the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, we see that despite a vaccine was made available in just a few months, the public’s interest to be vaccinated remained low. The reasons for this ranged from untrustworthiness in government, to fear of the vaccine.
The research for a COVID-19 vaccine has served as an opportunity to develop a new vaccine using different development methods, such as the RNA vaccine. As the need for something that protects us from this new virus is absolute, it won’t be possible to have a long window for testing, as we had for previous vaccines.
There also appears to be a political competition where different nations are trying to show their power. Both economic and scientific. Otherwise, why would China build a hospital from scratch, instead of saving resources and use the existing infrastructure as other countries did? And why was the Russian vaccine registered before being fully tested?
Here are some reasons why I believe that people will resist taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Belief That COVID-19 Is No Different From the Flu
Despite the death rate of COVID-19 being 3–4% and Influenza having below 0.1%, there are still people believing that this is just like the common flu. Even the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro claimed that this pandemic was not more than a “little flu”.
Statements like this from world leaders will divide the world even more between people who are taking this problem seriously and people who are undervaluing the threat of having a new virus for which we currently don’t have neither treatment nor vaccine.
As we never saw a vaccine being developed in such a short period and know that most vaccines take years to be safely developed, this will lead to an understandable suspicion if the tests that were made to the vaccine were enough to make a mass distribution.
The vaccines will most likely start to be applied with just about one year of developing and testing, and the assurance of it being both safe and efficient are easily questionable, especially for what comes in the next point.
Fear of Side-Effects
Worse than the vaccine being inefficient is if it brings side-effects that aren’t known. If you ask your family and friends if they would take the vaccine, the biggest concern that they raise is the fear that it won’t be safe.
The fear of side-effects is real even for vaccines that exist for years. The anti-vax community is proof of that. The risks (and there is always some risk) of taking a vaccine are not always advertised.
Since this is a new vaccine, developed during a crisis in record time, we can expect beforehand a big deal of retraction from the general public.
General Mistrust of Government and Health Authorities
How many times have the governments and health authorities gone back and forth with what we should do, or what was the behavior of this virus? I’ll give a few examples:
- The usage of masks. At first, they did nothing to prevent it. Now they are life-saviors;
- The spread of the virus by people who don’t show symptoms. At first, they could transmit the virus even without symptoms. Then they said that asymptomatic people didn’t spread the virus. The came afterward to clarify that asymptomatic and presymptomatic were different concepts, the latest being someone that doesn’t show symptoms at the moment but will show in the near future;
- Governments often underrate the pandemic, despite the results it is having.
With this lack of trust between the governments and the people, it will be hard to believe when the health authorities and governments tell us to use the vaccine. It will be hard to believe that it is “safe and efficient”.
The Pharmaceuticals Are Benefiting From the Pandemic
Well, this is true, after all. There is an unprecedented need for both vaccines and medicine to fight the virus. And the first one to make it will have pure gold on their hands.
The relationship between the general public and pharmaceutical companies was never excellent. That’s probably the reason why there are tons of conspiration theories that if they wanted, they could cure cancer and that they don’t do it because they can make more money with the chemotherapy medicine.
In the mind of these people, taking the vaccine is giving money to companies who are exploiting this problem.
What Should Be Done to Prevent This?
We are probably a few months of starting to mass vaccinate the general public worldwide. Government and health authorities should start their vaccination and sensibilization campaigns right now, in order for it to have some effect before starting vaccination.
It is also crucial to be careful about how and what information is passed to the general public. Of course, people need to know what is happening, but transmitting information that we are not sure about can generate a feeling that the authorities don’t know what they are doing.
There will be a need for the strength and confidence of the public authorities to gain the people’s faith. Otherwise, many people won’t want their vaccine, and the problem will continue.
We are the closest we’ve ever been to the end of this pandemic. Science knows more about SARS-CoV-2 each day that goes by.
Everyone is very focused on finding a vaccine/treatment for COVID-19. But very few are noticing that much of the trust of the general public in the state has was lost along the way.
If we don’t revert this feeling when the time comes and there is a vaccine that can return our lives to normal, many people won’t take it, and we will need to keep the restrictions and the worst of all, more people will die.
Thank you for reading my article. If you want to receive updates regarding my latest work, subscribe to my email list.
If you have any questions or subjects you would like to discuss further, please leave a response. I’ll be happy to talk about it!