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VACCINE AND THE ANTI-VAXXERS

By Sanal Edamaruku


How early we'll get the vaccine?

As the world is waiting hopefully, and scientists are working overtime, the vaccine volunteers who already got the first round of shots are now getting the second round of injections. It's good news, said Lisa Jackson, who is leading the study.

The vaccine, called RNA-1273, is given in two doses. This is because the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is new to the medical world - before it appeared in December 2019, no one had been exposed to it.

The first shot is a "primer to set the immune system up, giving it a first look at the virus", explains Jackson.

The second shot, administered 28 days later, builds on that protection so the body can more rapidly produce antibodies if it is later exposed to the virus.

Experimental vaccine mRNA-1273

The vaccine developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the Cambridge, Mass.- based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. is called mRNA-1273.

The mRNA-1273 experimental vaccine uses messenger RNA to get the body's own cells to produce a protein found on the "spikes" on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that it uses to infect human cells. Will the human response to those proteins by mounting a robust immune response to the virus? That's the hope.

When will we know if the tests are successful? And if the tests are successful when will the vaccine be available?

If there are no side effects or other problems to the volunteers during the next 13 months, the vaccine will be available.

At present, there is no approved vaccine for COVID-19.

Oxford University trials


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Moderna vaccine is the first of the more than 70 candidate vaccines that are currently tested worldwide.

It is promising that at Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccination trial is already rolling. The first injections that took place there may also mark a major development of the race to find a cure for the pandemic. They hope to produce a vaccine for public use as early as September.

The world's anti-vaccination community - which is small but dangerous to the public health - seems to be divided on how to respond to the pandemic.


Anti-vaxxers and faith healers

Will the coronavirus pandemic force anti-vaxxers and faith healers to question their views? Some may certainly do that.

But most of them may not be convinced. Vaccine hesitancy, sometimes promoted by some celebrities, may even seriously undermine a future inoculation program.

Some of the faith healers and anti-vaxxers who believe that their gods would protect them from the coronavirus do not seem to be convinced about the protection measures including social distancing and lockdowns.

The key to the social and psychological mechanism behind anti-vaxxers and faith healers is the same as to magical thinking and various irrational behavior patterns.

It holds that the dissonance between conflicting ideas, beliefs, or values causes them stark discomfort. That will ignite a strong drive to reduce this dissonance by altering and adjusting cognitions or adding new ones.

Evidences and facts won't change them. On the face of stronger evidences, they will experience uncomfortable dissonance with the reality and the entrenched faith. That is when they will develop irresistible and compelling urge to "discover" new arguments to defend any kind of magical thinking that they hold dear.