THE IMPACT COVID HAS HAD ON UTILIZING RESOURCES AND PROGRESSING SOCIETY.
Covid-19 has enormously aided in advances of future technology and science. Governments around the world have funded for research and innovation conducted by universities, public research institutions and firms in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. STI, which stands for science, technology and innovation, plays a critical role during the pandemic in building a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive future. As a result of the Covid-19 virus, new and improved forms of scientific communication have evolved. One example is the amount of data being published on social media platforms by Scientists and other people of authorization in the field. They are are reviewing, editing, analyzing, and publishing manuscripts and data speedily, for quick access and collection into research. The public are also learning so much more about Science and Technology as they are forced to be faced with it every day. More people are tuning in to the news, reading articles and conducting research. The vaccine was also created, using new and improved technology, however some of the population is still skeptical on how safe it really is.
Australia began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in February. The Australian Government’s first priority was to protect our most vulnerable Australians first, as well as the frontline heroes who are protecting all of us. This includes aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline health care workers, and quarantine and border workers. The first vaccine available to Victoria specifically was Astrazeneca, this was given priority before pfizer came along. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are at least 13 different COVID-19 vaccines currently in use around the world, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective health interventions for infectious diseases. They have had a staggering impact on reducing the burden of infectious cases worldwide. However, a vaccine is only effective if people are willing to receive it. With rapid research development, many Victorians are concerned that the vaccine was rushed, and with these concerns comes vaccine hesitancy.
Why do people oppose vaccines?
Refusing vaccines started back in the early 1800s when the smallpox vaccine started being used in large numbers. The idea of injecting someone with a part of a cowpox blister to protect them from smallpox faced a lot of criticism. The criticism was based on sanitary, religious, and political objections. Some also believed that the vaccine went against their religion. Although vaccine hesitancy across Australia, and Victoria, continues to steadily fall, from 15% on 23rd September to 13.3% on the 10th October, there is still much that the state needs to combat.
The current hesitancy rate suggests that Australia can achieve at least 87% of the population fully vaccinated, consistent with the steady rise of first dose uptake across states. Most diseases prior to Covid-19 had very little conspiracies surrounding them. Things such as measles vaccine and flu injections, however, the covid-19 vaccine was one of many debate between whether science is to be trusted, the government is to be trusted, and if the vaccines are safe.
Vaccine Hesitancy Report Card (2021), Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research. The Above image represents the proportion of the adult population who are vaccine hesitant on the 5th of February 2021. Victoria comes second, shortly under Queensland at 32.03%
Vaccine Hesitancy Report Card (2021), Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research. The Above image represents the proportion of the adult population who are vaccine hesitant on the 10th of October 2021. All state's vaccine hesitancy has dropped as it has become a requirement, and there is much encouragement to have it.
Since we witnessed covid-19 being slowly brought into the world, first starting in China and moving to Australia, we formed beliefs along the way as we saw the virus grow and mutate along with us. With the newfound importance of media that is being available, it is very easy for unreliable information to be spread around. Even when it doesn't come to covid-19, there are conspiracies behind companies, famous actors and more. It isn’t a surprise that those who lack ability to trust jump to try and find faults in the virus and vaccine. Health professionals and physicians have been combating misconceptions about the vaccine for over twenty years, there are many excuses and conspiracies in order to not receive the vaccine, some popular ones include:
CONSPIRACY/EXCUSE 1: Vaccines cause autism.
During a 1997 study published by British Surgeon Andrew Wakefield, it was suggested that the mumps, measles, rubella (MMR) vaccine was increasing autism in British children. The article was published in a prestigious medical journal named The Lancet, and rised fear in several that vaccines caused autism. The 'study' has ebem discredited several times by many scientists and doctors who say that the paper includes ethical violations, procedural errors and more. Due to the falsehoods of the paper, Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet, with many who still shame upon what he published. Even though it was claimed as false, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism, but the public who do not wish to take a vaccine still use it to support their argument.
You can read more about Andrew Wakefield's Paper below:
Sourced by: The Guardian, Photograph: Daniel Berehulak/Getty (Andrew Wakefield and his then-wife Carmel in 2007, flanked by supporters ahead of an appearance before the GMC)
CONSPIRACY/EXCUSE 2: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity.
The most famous reason for the population to oppose vaccines is because they believe their bodies can combat a virus more beneficently without the need to inject an antibody in their systems. In some cases, natural immunity does result in a stronger immunity to the disease than a vaccination. However, the dangers of approaching the virus without a vaccine far outweigh the benefits. The chances for death when retracting covid are much higher than death when receiving a Covid vaccine. If you wanted to gain immunity to measles, for example, by contracting the disease, you would face a 1 in 500 chance of death from your symptoms. In contrast, the number of people who have had severe allergic reactions from the vaccine for MMR, it is less than one-in-one million! After vaccination, some side affects are common side effects, such as soreness and fever are common, but this is only a fraction of what the real virus would feel like if you were to contract it. According to CHOP, HPV, tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcal vaccines induce a better immune response than natural infection. The official science.org website informs that even though natural immunity is an extremely powerful shield to the virus, the vaccine is vital.
A Jerusalem health care worker in January prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine designed to prevent COVID-19. (Sourced: Science.org, Picture: ahmad gharabli/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
CONSPIRACY/EXCUSE 3: 'The AstraZeneca vaccine could give me a blood clot.'
There was new information released that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to an extremely rare blood-clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). But really, the risk is extreme small to contract. there were 87 cases of TTS in Australia by early August, from 6.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Five of those people have sadly passed, however, this means the average number of deaths from TTS caused by AstraZeneca is less than 1 in a million. TTS can be dangerous, but since it was found health professionals have became trained well to recognize and treat TTS, and the chance of survival has became much higher. If you are worried about the Astrazeneca vaccine and the chance of blood clots, there are several other safe and secure vaccines, just like the Astrazeneca vaccine that are available.
(Sourced; BBC article, https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-56665396, (Cuffe, 2021)) Above is a table to represent how dangerous are the risks of the astrazeneca vaccine compared to others we are currently experiencing, in reality it is much less and even benificial.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and low risk. In fact, you're more likely to get a blood clot from COVID-19 itself, and from many other things, such as oral contraceptive pills, which 1,200 out of 1 million women will develop a blood clot, for every 4,500 flights over 4 hours, there will be 1 incidence of blood clotting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and many others. It is a personal decision on whether or not you would like to take the atsrazeneca vaccine (unless of course it is the only one available to the age group), however it is not an excuse to invalidate the vaccine or discredit a need for it.
CONSPIRACY/EXCUSE 4: 'I don’t trust the vaccines because they were developed quickly'.
There is much speculation amongst how quick the vaccines were created. As it does seem that they were just created 'overnight' scientists and health professionals have worked with manufacturers to develop a vaccine as soon as the pandemic occured. For example Oxford University in the UK had years of research to create the AstraZeneca vaccine. The technology it has been developed over the past 10 years. It was tested on diseases like the flu and other coronaviruses, such as MERS. The funding helped the vaccine trials to be fast-tracked yet accurate. All of the Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia have been through the same trials as any past vaccine. As more vaccines are developing around the world, such as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Pfizer, Moderna, COVAX and Sputnik V, the new and improved data is showing the importance of the vaccines, and how they are highly effective for protection the population.
This data by (Our World in Data, google.com) shows how many people have received at least one dose of a vaccine in Australia. People who are fully vaccinated may have received more than one dose.
CONSPIRACY/EXCUSE 5: 'Forcing me to wear a mask violates my human rights'
Many Victorians may have seen the video of the woman arguing with Bunnings staff members who have nicely asked her to wear her mask, as per the Victorian Government’s emergency directive. The woman refuses, crying discrimination and claiming it is a violation of the “1948 Charter of Human Rights”, which to where she is referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the UN in 1948. However, Victoria also has its own Charter of Human Rights, which sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of Victorians.
Like all states, Victoria has legislation which enables the State to make lawful directives when a state of emergency is declared. These emergency laws essentially give the government to make directives they usually wouldn’t be able to make in normal circumstances, in order to protect the community. Masks are effective and may be uncomfortable, but they are not a violation to human rights. Face coverings limit the volume and travel distance of expiratory droplets dispersed when talking, breathing, and coughing. A face covering without vents or holes will also filter out particles containing the virus from inhaled and exhaled air, reducing the chances of infection.
news.com.au, Nationwide News Pty Ltd © 2021. Are masks effective? Graph.
news.com.au, Nationwide News Pty Ltd © 2021. Are masks effective? Graph.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO COMBAT THE CONSPIRACIES?
Victoria is trying to combat the several conspiracies/excuses every day. Daniel Andrews speaks about at least one or two every time he comes on his press conference, to again remind Victorians that what they hear on the media is not always true, and actions are not justified that are against the policy or new roadmap. On several occasions he was required to call out those who did not follow the policy, and share to the nation the consequences. The consequences of the 'beliefs' of people opposing to wear a mask or get vaccinated are fatal, in order to put an end to them. Victoria now requires all workers in Melbourne and regional Victoria, on the Authorised Worker list will require their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Friday, 15 October in order to continue working onsite. They will need to be fully vaccinated by 26 November. If they fail to meet these standards or refuse to be vaccinated, they will be fired from their job. Daniel Andrews talks about how it is a 'choice' to be vaccinated, but because of the current protests and misinformation, as well as spike of cases, he must do what he can. Although labeled a choice, here is really no choice for Victorians to not get vaccinated, and if not obliged, they can be faced with great trouble.
Many do not follow the order to vaccinate or wear protective gear because of personal reasons such as religion or culture. However, many pastors and leaders in faith have came together with the aid of government officials to encourage their religion or culture to take the right steps in order to protect themselves, not lose their jobs and help the community, including the pope.
The above video shows Pope Francis urging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, calling it an act of love toward others. This is produced to encourage Christians to get vaccinated because of their hesitancy due to their beliefs. (Vatican News - English, 2021)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PFIZER AND ASTRAZENECA VACCINE:
There is a main difference between the more popular vaccines, Pfizer and Astrazeneca, that make people in Victoria and everywhere around the world wonder which one to choose. The Astrazeneca vaccine created by Oxford was introduced to Asutralia from the 8th of March 2021. It was beneficial to our country as 'Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore.' It was originally only targeted to priorities. This includes health care workers and people over the age of 60. Professor Alison McMillan, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, states that the reason that it was given to those over 60 only originally, was that the TTS condition that we spoke about prior, (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome) was more frequent with the younger age groups. For people 60 and over, the benefit of the vaccine in protecting against severe disease and death is much greater protection than if you were to get COVID-19 virus, as older people are much more vulnerable, according to The Australian Government Department of Health (and video attached below!)
The Astrazeneca vaccine uses the traditional method and old technology that was used when creating the past vaccines. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is known to be a "chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine". this uncommon term means that thecreators of the vaccine took a virus that normally infects chimpanzees, and genetically modified to avoid any possible disease consequences in people. The modified version of the "chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine" also known as Astrazeneca, carries a portion of the coronavirus called the “spike protein.” When the vaccine is injected and makes its way into the human cell, it triggers an immune response against that protein, producing antibodies and memory cells that will be able to recognize the virus that causes Covid-19. This method is used in other vaccines such as the Malaria and Ebola vaccine. However, the Pfizer vaccine is different.
Sourced: RACPG, (NewsGP, 2021), A photo of the Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccine being held beside each other.
The Pfizer vaccine (as well as the moderna) use a new and improved technology instead of sticking to the traditional method. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine uses mRNA technology that scientists have been working on for many years. Some of the earliest successful mRNA vaccine clinical trial results were published in 2008.
How the vaccine enters your body, according to healthline.com:
- After you receive the vaccine, the mRNA that it contains is taken up by nearby cells.
- Once mRNA is inside of a cell, the mRNA remains outside of the nucleus and doesn’t directly impact your DNA.
- The mRNA in the vaccine provides instructions to the cell on how to produce the spike protein that’s found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2. The virus uses this protein to bind to and enter cells before it begins reproducing and spreading the virus throughout your cells.
- Using the information provided by the vaccine mRNA, the cell makes spike protein. When this process has been completed, the mRNA is then destroyed.
- The spike proteins that the cell has produced are then displayed on the cell surface.
- Immune cells in your body can now recognize the spike protein as a foreign substance and work to build an immune response against it.
- Your immune system can now produce antibodies and other immune cells that specifically recognize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. These tools can help to protect you from becoming sick if you’re exposed to the novel coronavirus.
We don't know how this will be in the long run, but it is 5% more effective than the Astrazeneca vaccine, and is targeted to (now) all age groups. Many who are skeptical on the vaccine but must take it by law usually lean towards the Astrazeneca vaccine, as it follows a traditional method. We have not determined the new technology but it has been conducted with much research to support, and we will most likely use this method going forward. According to Forbes, both Moderna and Pfizer, whose vaccines use an mRNA platform, found their vaccines to be about 95% effective. The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine showed a somewhat lower efficacy, but is less expensive and poses fewer issues involved in distribution and administration.
“We can only hope that together with Pfizer and also Moderna and also Astrazeneca, we will manufacture enough doses.” Dr. Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca U.S.
In Australia, the government took measures with Covid-19 by enforcing a lockdown every time there was a strike in cases. In victoria, this method was used several times. From the first lockdown which started in March, to the current one, which now holds the title of Victoria’s sixth lockdown, it isn’t turning out great for the state. The current lockdown we are experiencing of September and onwards 2021, the state was put in immediate lockdown after just a small spike in covid cases. Victorians were sick of this as they have already been the most locked down state in the world, counting on a total of 256 days (so far). As soon as one case started and the state was put into lockdown, people couldn’t take it anymore. Many were questioning why we were required to be placed in lockdown with just a few covid cases when states in America are fully open with thousands of cases (so far). The ignorance to follow lockdown restrictions and the struggle to handle the cases after the 6th attempt, didn’t work out for the better. Even though past lockdowns ended up successful, Victorians are tired of repeating the same process and breach lockdown rules for their own personal ‘freedom’. For the 6th and current lockdown, the cases reached a new high and tallied a total of 2,297 in 24 hours.
SHOULD WE HAVE BEEN WORRIED ABOUT VACCINES, OR FOCUSED ON GETTING CASES DOWN?
After speaking to La Trobe University Scholar Jeff Yeoman, we asked the question below above. Should we still worry on getting cases down, or getting everybody vaccinated?
Dr Yeoman states that while it was crucial to keep cases down, getting people vaccinated is more of a reasonable option as of now. The more people vaccinated, the less severe cases meaning hospitals won’t be overflowing and running out of rooms for patients. It is proven that this method is starting to become efficient, at the moment, with around 70% vaccinated with a double dose in Victoria, the numbers are still increasing, but sever cases are declining and risk is getting smaller. There is only .1% of severe Covid cases if you are vaccinated, so based on these statistics we should continue vaccinating.
"The vaccines are definitely benefiting the risk of contracting a severe covid case, with the majority of the population being vaccinated, we can reach our targets of herd immunity."
Dr. Jeff Yeoman, (Sourced: www.latrobeuniversity/scholars.com)