In an age of extreme socio-political circumstances and unlimited access to the internet, misinformation found online largely contributes to the opinions of the general public. It seems as though many people have a hard time discerning whether or not their source of information is reliable, which has proven to be especially harmful throughout the course of the pandemic.
The anti-vax community has argued that the vaccine was developed too quickly and therefore it can’t be safe. However, coronavirus is simply not a new phenomenon. Scientists became familiar with different variations of the virus 50 years ago, and have been working on vaccines for the past 20 years, since the discovery of SARS and MERS.
Dr. Eric J. Yager, an associate professor of microbiology at Albany College of Pharmacy, made it clear that scientists have been dealing with various coronaviruses for decades. This undoubtedly played a key role in their ability to develop an effective vaccine in a relatively short amount of time.
“Early efforts by scientists at Oxford University to create an adenovirus-based vaccine against MERS provided the necessary experimental experience and groundwork to develop an adenovirus vaccine for COVID-19,” Yager explained.
Although the FDA approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Aug. 23, skeptics are still advocating for freedom of choice when it comes to getting the shot. Among the many anti-vax conspiracy theories, virtually none of them offer any comprehensive data as to how the vaccine could potentially be a danger to the average person. For example, some conspiracy theorists believe that the Covid vaccine contains a microchip or can alter your DNA. These theories have long been debunked, yet some still don’t believe the vaccine is safe.
Generally the anti-vax community relies on fear mongering and spreading blatant misinformation to get their point across. This is a problem not only for scientists who want to get people on board with the vaccine so we can finally be rid of this nightmare, but for readers who are still on the fence about vaccines, whether it be their effectiveness or overall safety.
Conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxers such as Greg Hunter, who runs the popular USAWatchdog blog, are desperately trying to find valid arguments after the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
“The big news the FDA had given “full approval” to the Pfizer CV19 vaccine is a HUGE lie,” Hunter said on his website. “The FDA has granted approval to some future vaccine called ‘Comirnaty.’”
Hunter is referring to the statement that Pfizer released after the FDA approved the vaccine. It is difficult to understand the language used in this document, which is likely where Hunter got confused, but his argument is simply incorrect. There is no “experimental” or new vaccine. The EUA was renewed in order to ensure that trials continue for those aged 12-15, and the vaccine was renamed “Comirnaty.” Those are the only things that have changed.
What this discussion really boils down to is whether or not people are willing to protect those who need it. When an immunocompromised, elderly or otherwise at-risk person is forced to interact with someone who is unvaccinated, their life could be at risk. In a perfect world this simple notion would be enough to convince someone to get the shot, however it seems as though misinformation will be circulating as long as the internet is around.
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