The Covid-19 vaccine is here, but don’t celebrate yet. The vaccine is no silver bullet, and could very well backfire. While the global economy reels and thousands die each day from Covid-19, vaccines developed at record speed would appear to mark the beginning of the end of a difficult year. But not so fast, enormous challenges lie ahead, and the existence of the vaccine could make our situation worse.
With all of the misinformation that has spread alongside Covid-19 (it is a hoax, made in a lab, or just a flu….etc) there is no reason to think that this misinformation will not continue with the arrival of the vaccine. In fact, it could become substantially worse.
Already, many Americans, known as anti-vaxxers, dispute the efficacy of vaccines and claim terrible side effects, such as autism. This of course, is due to faulty or misunderstood science, spread by social media posts that disseminate half-truths and exaggerated claims. Given the existing politicization of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the rushed nature of the vaccines’ development, it’s a fair bet that many more people will be skeptical about the Covid-19 vaccine. Initial surveys bear this out. Nearly half of Americas say they won’t be willing take the vaccine immediately when it becomes available, and one quarter say they will never take it.
Now, to achieve herd immunity, it is estimated that 70-80% of Americans will need immunity to the virus to slow its spread. If 25% of Americans are committing to never taking the vaccine, the goal of herd immunity is already in jeopardy. But this, actually, is the least of our concerns.
The Two Dose Problem
The other issue is one of doses. The vaccines that have approved thus far require two doses to reach the required effectiveness. Studies done on the Hepatitis B vaccine, which also requires two doses, found that 50% of people missed the second dose. We can expect a similar outcome with Covid-19 vaccines. Without the full dosage, the vaccine will not be nearly as effective as advertised.
With diminished efficacy comes a false sense of security. Many people, having gotten the first dose and believing that they are in the clear, may fail to exercise adequate safety measures. They may resume their lives as normal, travelling, going to restaurants, refusing to wear masks…etc. This false sense of security endangers themselves and will lead to more infections of others.
But Wait, There’s More!
This leads us to the final problem: immunity. No, not immunity from the virus, immunity for the virus. Like failing to take antibiotics to the recommended dosage, failing to get a second dose of the vaccine could enable the virus to learn to survive in hosts who are partially vaccinated. In other words, the virus can mutate over time and becomes resistant to vaccines intended to stop it from reproducing.
The newly-immune virus will spread unimpeded and the Operation Warp-speed effort will be all for naught. Granted, this is a worst case scenario and is not highly likely, but it is not outside the bounds of reality and illustrates the danger of ignoring science and reason.
Recovery From 2020 Requires a Good Start to 2021
Reasonable skepticism is a healthy personality trait, but we as a society must do better. We mustn’t fall victim to false social media posts that are pushing political agendas. Facts, reason, and science are not political statements, they elucidate truth. And while truth is never simple, falsities are harmful. If you are hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine, remember this: the risk of Covid-19 is greater than the risk of the vaccine itself.
About the Lianeon Project |
The Lianeon Project is a publication for people who recognize that civilization’s growth requires forward-looking public policy that prioritizes reason, truth, and human progress.
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