Let COVID-19 vaccine science lead you, not hearsay, pleads official


Let COVID-19 vaccine science lead you, not hearsay, pleads official

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, December 13, 2020

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Member of the UWI COVID-19 Task Force and director of Global Virus Network, Dr Joshua Anzinger, is urging Jamaicans to be open and driven by the science around the COVID-19 vaccine rather than being influenced by the misinformation in the public space.

Dr Anzinger explained that part of the contention around the vaccine is the length of time it took to be developed, but, he explained that there has been major advances in vaccine technology which sped things up, plus a series of clinical trials increases the efficacy of the vaccine.

He said the process of vaccine development and administering has been transparent. He said having faith in the public health system is a crucial aspect of its introduction, locally.

“The general take home message is that everything is publicly available and it's freely available – you can see the data online. The entire process has been very open and I think what will be really helpful to this whole situation is having trust in the public health system. I think that needs should be brought into play. The Government has a role in that and we will see what their action is when we get closer to having the vaccine commence,” Dr Anzinger said.

Dr Anzinger said while Jamaica is in a beneficial spot to see if any major problems should arise from the vaccine, thousands of people have received the vaccines in the clinical trials and there has not been any major issues.

Further, Dr Anzinger said getting a true representation of how many people are affected by COVID-19 in Jamaica and administering the vaccine based on that, will allow for the country to somewhat determine when normalcy will be returned.

“If many people have been infected, then less people need to get vaccinated to really decrease the circulation dramatically. But if there's not many people who have been infected then the vaccine becomes that much more important to limit the transmission. So I think it depends on that. That's a really critical piece of information. Knowing how many people have been infected really informs where we're going to be next year,” he said, adding that having a very low-key Christmas was necessary to try to prevent another major surge in cases.

Moreover, Dr Anzinger said for health care workers on the front line and people who are coming into contact with COVID-19 patients, the vaccine will be a major benefit and should be viewed as a reward, as opposed to a risk.

“As we've seen with the virus, we don't really know much. We know your risk is that you're older, but there are people that are in their 30s that died. So, we just don't know, what's going to happen with this particular virus. But I think that it should be very, very strongly considered a risk versus a reward, especially for the people who are very much at risk of getting COVID. They really need to think rationally about what this vaccine might do. It basically could save your life,” he said.

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