By A Correspondent- Questions and misinformation are going around through the social media about the Covid-19 vaccines confusing the public.
Below are facts on Covid-19 vaccines by a renowned Virologist at Rhodes University (South Africa) and member of the Provincial Covid-19 Expert Panel, Professor Rosemary Dorrington.
Question: *“I’ve heard that vaccines can alter my DNA and that they are not even officially approved. And seeing that the vaccine is likely to make me infertile, why take the chance?”*
There is an ever-increasing number of myths and misinformation doing the rounds, and I am here to set some of the facts straight. Let’s take some of the most common concerns and dig a little deeper for each one.
*1. The vaccine will not prevent me from dying – FALSE*
There have been “breakthrough cases” where vaccinated people contract
COVID-19. However, even with the Delta variant, vaccinated people are nine
times less likely to get infected, and most of these infections result in
asymptomatic or mild illness. The vaccines are more than 90% effective at
preventing severe illness and even more effective at preventing deaths from
COVID-19. There have been a small number of deaths, though, and the
evidence is that these were vaccinated people with serious co-morbidities
or that were immunocompromised, so they did not develop a strong enough
response to the vaccine.
And remember, breakthrough cases do not refer to people “dying from the
vaccine” as it is sometimes misrepresented in the media and social media.
Breakthrough cases refer to vaccinated people who get infected. And 90% of
these infections cause asymptomatic or mild illness.
*2. The vaccines inject you with the virus – FALSE*
The vaccines we are using in South Africa right now do not contain
SARS-CoV-2 virus. They only contain a small part of the spike protein – one
of 25 proteins produced by the virus – that stimulates your immune system
to make antibodies to fight off a future infection. The Pfizer COVID-19
vaccine presents the cell with instructions (mRNA) to produce a part of the
spike protein that will build immunity. Over the past 200 years, vaccines
have reduced the morbidity and mortality of infectious diseases such as
smallpox, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, whooping cough and
more recently, Ebola and Zika across the world.
*3. The vaccine alters your DNA – FALSE*
The Pfizer vaccine contains mRNA, which is short lived and does not alter
the DNA of human cells. This mRNA contains the instructions to make only
the coronavirus spike protein and it cannot move from one cell to another.
Also, it cannot get into the cell nucleus which is where the DNA is and
therefore it can’t interact with the DNA. I like to think of the vaccine
as an email message to your immune system that gets deleted after it has
been read by the cell.
*4. The vaccine can make your infertile – FALSE*
With more than 2 billion people already vaccinated worldwide, there is no
clinical evidence that the COVID vaccines affects fertility. Vaccine
monitoring has historically shown that side effects generally happen within
six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. Millions of people have received
COVID-19 vaccines, and no negative long-term side effects have been
detected, including fertility. Studies showed an equal number of people
becoming pregnant in the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.
In fact, a recent report using the v-safe safety monitoring system data
showed that 4,800 people had a positive pregnancy test after receiving a
first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer).
Globally, we continue to closely monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
If scientists find a connection between a safety issue and a vaccine, the
regulators and the vaccine manufacturers will work toward an appropriate
solution to address the specific safety concern.
*5. The vaccine was approved under emergency conditions and is therefore not safe – FALSE*
Vaccines undergo rigorous trials to ensure they are safe and effective.
All vaccines go through a comprehensive approval process by medical
regulators to ensure that they are safe, even when being approved under
The fast development and approval of vaccines is an extraordinary feat
brought about by sharing of vital information between scientists and
pharmaceutical companies and this achievement is indeed worthy of
celebration. This has also been possible because we have learnt over many
decades how to make and test vaccines and we were able to take those
lessons and challenge ourselves to produce a vaccine much quicker.
While the specific COVID vaccine is relatively new, the technology (method
for delivering the spike protein) it uses is well-established with over 10
years of testing. So, the “vehicle” is well-tested and it’s only the
“cargo” that has changed.
The Pfizer vaccine was recently fully approved by the FDA and is no longer considered an “emergency” vaccine.
For more *Straight Talks*, please check out the Latest News section of the
Rhodes University website: https://www.ru.ac.za/news/
ISSUED BY THE DIVISION OF COMMUNICATION AND ADVANCEMENT ON BEHALF OF RHODES UNIVERSITY