The benefits far outweigh the risks
There is a lot of discussion right now about the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine. How logical is this discussion? Let’s give an example.
The risk of blood clots
Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccines have been given to about 7 million people in the United States, but the vaccine has been temporarily paused due to possible blood clots in six vaccine recipients.
It is normal to have such a temporary pause. In the meantime, the FDA and CDC will examine if blood clotting has anything to do with the vaccination. Doctors will also be informed during this time how to treat such side effects if they potentially occur in other persons. It is expected that the FDA will soon lift the pause and reintroduce the vaccine to the public.
But most importantly, if someone becomes seriously ill after being infected with the coronavirus, their chances of blood clotting are many, many times higher. It is safe to say that the cause of blood clots by vaccine is extremely rare and even if that occurs, it is thought that about 85% of cases can be cured through treatment.
Any widely used drug (such as paracetamol, antacids) is not 100% risk-free. Vaccines have some side effects too, which are normal and acceptable. Covid-19 is killing 10,000 to 12,000 people every day around the world.
Now, think to yourself: How rare are the chances, if there are any, with blood clotting and Covid-19 vaccination, versus how many people are dying from Covid-19 each day. No doubt, the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines that are approved in the US, the UK, and the EU outweigh the risks of what the European Medicines Agency and the WHO are constantly advocating.
Why is the second dose so critical?
People also say that a minority of vaccinated individuals are still infected with the coronavirus even after taking the Covid-19 vaccine. Could that be right? Taking the first dose of a two-dose vaccine develops immunity only in a very small number of people, so, do not neglect to take the second dose of the vaccine.
Because the immune system is not completely functional with the first dose of the vaccine, it is important to follow perfectly the protective measures even after the first dose of the vaccine.
Immunity will be complete within 2-3 weeks of the second dose of the vaccine. Therefore, the second dose cannot be omitted in any way. Can people who have fully completed the vaccine dose become infected with the coronavirus?
The answer is that it is very unlikely because if the coronavirus enters the body, the immune system will be activated very quickly in those vaccinated individuals and will kill the virus and keep us free from the Covid-19 disease.
But new variants of the coronavirus are being found around the globe -- also a normal process. If the vaccine is made using the old variant of the virus, the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new variant might be reduced, so very few people who have been vaccinated may be infected with the new variant.
But the most important thing is that even if someone who has been vaccinated tests positive, the person will develop mild to moderate disease as the vaccine will give protection. So, the vaccine will protect the vaccinated person from getting a severe disease and that person will not be needed to be hospitalized.
In sum, the possibility of blood clots with a vaccine is extremely, extremely low. Even if a person is infected with a new variant of the coronavirus after receiving the vaccine, he or she will develop mild to moderate but not severe disease.
There is no more effective way to eradicate viral diseases than vaccines. For example, smallpox has been eradicated from the world, polio has been eradicated from Bangladesh, and both were due to vaccines.
Vaccines are one of the most invaluable gifts of science. Get vaccinated, stay healthy.
Dr Rezaul Karim is Immunologist, drug discovery and regulatory affairs, the Netherlands.