By Sahar Moussa
It is a fact that since March, when COVID-19 caught the world off guard, until this day, many people have lost their health, lives, loved ones or jobs due to the pandemic. Since then, many pharmaceutical companies have been trying their best to find a vaccine against the coronavirus. Today, as the distribution and inoculation of the COVID-19 vaccine begins, the question is: Are we willing to take a vaccine whose timeframe is shorter than the virus itself? It is a very hot and controversial topic nowadays.
Just to be clear, I am neither a scientist nor a physician, and I do not have any medical background. However, I am a very curious person who does not take anything for granted before I research, read and investigate it.
The health ministry announced last Sunday that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Kuwait by the end of December. According to Al-Rai Arabic daily, the government is preparing to vaccinate 10,000 people a day for free, both Kuwaitis and expats. Although people view this vaccine as a solution to many problems, according to Al-Qabas Arabic daily, 46 percent of Kuwaitis said they will refuse to take the vaccine, 39 percent said they will take it, while 15 percent are not sure.
You might ask what this vaccine is, or mRNA vaccine as it is called? According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. They teach our cells how to make a protein – or even just a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
When you read about it, it sounds like a fantastic and outstanding discovery and I have no problem with the method itself. I do understand that medicine nowadays has evolved, and humankind has managed to reach the Moon and Mars – but how can we trust a vaccine without thinking about the possibility of its long-term side effects? We usually get vaccines for preexisting diseases that were subjected to trials over an extended period of time.
I believe any vaccine should be tested for at least three to five years to make sure it is somehow safe. On the other hand, this vaccine has been tested for no more than four months, which leaves us to question its safety. Personally, I would not take this chance unless the government’s laws oblige me to do so.
In Kuwait, it is still not clear if the government will make the vaccine mandatory or not. Will the travel industry require passengers to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before allowing them to fly internationally? There are so many questions that only time can answer, but I do believe that people should be given the freedom to choose. So, are you for or against the COVID-19 vaccine?