Misleading Headlines About the Hydroxyquinoline Trials
Where Did This Coronavirus Come From? An Update.

What If A Vaccine Becomes Available?

There has been a lot of talk about “herd-immunity” to this coronavirus. The hope is that this will enable a return to more normal, less cautious times. Sweden has tried to achieve “natural” herd immunity by sacrificing many of its citizens to a nasty pathogen. Their approach is rather experimental; almost like a clinical trial in which the subjects are never given full disclosure of risks vs benefits and never have the chance to volunteer or decline to participate. The Swedish government declared by fiat that all its population would be guinea pigs. It hasn’t gone well there. Stay tuned for a soon-to-come blog on the Swedish experiment.

As I have written before in these pages, with a new pathogen it is not at all guaranteed that herd immunity will be effective or beneficial. It remains to be seen. Given that, it seems unethical to expose people to a potentially deadly pathogen in order to achieve something that is uncertain. This highlights the value of vaccines. Simply stated, a vaccine is a way to trick the body into thinking it has a virus infection without undergoing the risk of actually encountering the virus. That way, we can try to develop herd immunity at low health risk. If a vaccine can effectively stimulate a protective immune response, without risking viral disease, that is the ethical way to try to achieve herd immunity. The Milken Institute tracker now lists 145 candidate vaccines under development around the world.

In this blogger’s opinion, there is a pretty good chance that an effective and safe vaccine will be found and made available to not only protect individuals, but also to potentially protect the entire population for years to come by achieving herd immunity. However, finding that vaccine is just the first hurdle in developing herd immunity; getting the vax to sufficient numbers of people is the second hurdle. There already is a small, but nasty and persistent anti-vaccine strain in the US and European populations. I am concerned that this will prove to be a major impediment for using a vaccine to achieve herd immunity. A recent poll supports this concern.

A recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows that only about half of Americans would get a CoV-2 vaccine if available. A population needs about 70% to carry protective immunity in order for herd immunity to be effective. Among those who said that they would not get vaccinated, 70% said that they were worried about vaccine safety. This is despite the demonstrable fact that vaccines have proven extremely safe, especially when compared to the risks of the diseases they prevent.

40% of the non-vaxers also said that they were concerned about catching COVID-19 from the vaccine. That statistic reveals how lack of information and emotion informs many health decisions in lay people. Catching the virus from the vaccine is impossible. Most of the lead vaccines in development do not even use the CoV-2 virus. They take pieces of the virus that researchers believe can tickle the immune system, and put them into inert or crippled vectors that are not infectious. They can enter human cells, but cannot exit. They do not spread. Many of the vaccines under development don’t even use an inert or crippled vector. Some are just using potential immune-provoking genetic elements without the rest of the virus or its genome. Fear of being infected with a virus from a vaccine is unwarranted.

Bottom line: There is a Great Race around the world to develop a CoV-2 vaccine and it probably will be successful. But, fear of the vaccine that is greater than fear of the disease will, sadly, minimize the immediate impact of the vaccine.

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