The time has come in two days. On Wednesday 6 January, the Netherlands will be the last EU country to start vaccinating the Pfizer vaccine, which has been developed in collaboration with BioNTech. The vaccination consists of two injections, separated by three weeks. Seven days after the second shot, you have maximum protection against COVID-19. A great relief for many Dutch people, but there are also people who do not trust it. Six reassuring facts.
There are wild stories about just about all vaccines and the Pfizer vaccine is no exception. For example, the autism card is played by anti-taxers, but there is no relationship between vaccines and autism. This rumor is based on an incorrect 1998 article by the English physician Andrew Wakefield, which is still being quoted. The fact is that shortly after publication his study was recalled for fraud. The doctor lost his title because of this. The conclusions from this article are incorrect, according to various scientific studies. There are more false claims about vaccines that you come across on the internet.
Facts about the Pfizer vaccine
But what is right then? How could a vaccine have been developed so quickly? What kind of stuff are you injecting? All logical questions that don’t make you a conspiracy thinker if you ask them. In any case, history shows that you can best trust science, because that’s where the solutions for diseases and viruses come from. Well-known cases against which you have been vaccinated are diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Trust in science is not the same as trust in the integrity of the pharmaceutical industry. That’s another discussion. A few scientifically researched facts about the Pfizer vaccine in a row.
1. Short-term side effects
A total of 20,000 people have tested the Pfizer vaccine for an average period of at least two months. After that period, minor side effects have been shown, which were expected. Think of pain around the injection site, muscle pain, fatigue, fever and headache. On average, these side effects disappeared after one day. Only 9 percent of the people tested with side effects suffered from this during daily activities. These types of side effects are a good sign, according to experts, as they indicate that the immune system is in action.
2. Long-term side effects
A greater fear about vaccines often comes from long-term side effects. At the moment there is nothing demonstrable to indicate this, but rare side effects may come to light after the vaccination of a wider group. A well-known rare side effect is VAED, a vaccine-related disease in which symptoms of the disease you are vaccinated against actually get worse. This occurred with vaccines against dengue and the RS virus. However, those vaccines have used attenuated or inactivated versions of the respective viruses. Not comparable with the technique of the Pfizer vaccine against corona, based on mRNA (read more about this in point 3). All scientific studies on this are bundled here. Narcolepsy, the “sleeping sickness” that occurred in children with a vaccine against the swine flu in 2009, is virtually excluded with the mRNA vaccine, according to researchers. Any other rare long-term side effects are monitored, but there is no cause for concern, according to independent researchers and experts. Read more about this here.
3. mRNA and years of research
It may seem like the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 was developed in no time, but in reality, BionTech has been exploring the potential of RNA and mRNA for years, initially aiming at a vaccine against cancer. There is not yet a vaccine against cancer – that is a bit more complicated – but this technique turned out to be extremely suitable and much easier to apply for a vaccine against a virus such as corona. RNA is the abbreviation for ribonucleic acid, and BionTech describes it in jip-and-jane language as follows: “If our DNA is a cookbook, the RNA is a list of ingredients for a recipe”. mRNA stands for “messenger rna”. In the case of the current vaccine, this is a small piece of the COVID-19 genetic code that is inserted into a limited number of cells around the puncture site. The cells make the “corona protein” (2019-nCoV) on the basis of that “recipe”. The immune system then comes into action and the virus is withheld, so that it is immediately cleared up in the event of an actual infection. You are, as it were, temporarily genetically manipulated. And no, an mRNA vaccine does not change your DNA. You can read more about this here. In this article you can read more about the history of RNA research.
4. Not the only vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine, of which the Netherlands will receive 2.49 million doses up to the end of the first quarter, is not the only vaccine against COVID-19. Moderna’s vaccine (also based on mRNA) is expected to be approved this week and the Netherlands has ordered 6 million of these. The first 400,000 doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021. Another vaccine expected to be approved by the EMA very soon is the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine. In England they are even vaccinated with this. For example, there are still a number of vaccines in line to be approved in the short term.
5. No poison
No, there is no mercury and coolant in a Pfizer vaccine against corona. It does have mRNA, packed in fat vesicles. In addition, the agent contains, among other things, water, salt and some cholesterol, necessary for the administration.
6. Not required
For the people who still do not trust it: fortunately we still live in a democracy and you are not obliged to get yourself vaccinated. Neither were the Dutch in 1956, when the vaccine against the polio virus came on the market. At this time, too, there were doubts at first, but eventually the Netherlands allowed itself to be vaccinated collectively and polio disappeared in our country after a massive vaccination campaign. Or so they thought. In 1971 a polio epidemic broke out in Staphorst. Here people were found not to have their children vaccinated due to religious beliefs. In most places in the Netherlands, people still have their children vaccinated voluntarily against diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus and measles. All with vaccines that have no proven long-term side effects after all these years.
Also read these questions and answers about the Pfizer vaccine on the website of the Medicines Evaluation Board.
💉 Also check: Campaigners stopped with a refrigerator, they already wanted to start vaccinating
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