It's Déjà Vu All Over Again
As Covid-19 ravaged the world this time last year and physicians and scientists urged us to wear masks and to keep at least six feet away from others, conspiracy theories and misinformation abounded. A year and over 500,000 American deaths later, it’s déjà vu all over again as many people hesitate to get vaccinated against Covid-19 because they’ve heard it will damage their DNA.
The vaccines do not use DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) and they do not affect or damage DNA. The Covid-19 vaccines use fragments of mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid), which is not DNA. The mRNA fragments in the vaccines stimulate our bodies’ immune systems to develop antibodies against the Covid-19 virus because those are genetically identical to the mRNA in Covid-19. Those antibodies will remember how to fight the virus if we are infected in the future.
Another objection to getting vaccinated is that stem cells are used in the vaccines. However, while the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine was produced by growing the virus in fetal cells during vaccine development and manufacturing using the PER.C6 line, the vaccines themselves do not contain stem cells or pieces of DNA. The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna did not use a fetal cell line to produce or manufacture the vaccine.
Other objections include claims that “Covid/Coronavirus has been around for 90 years” and “90 percent of people recover from Covid.”
Frank Esper, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, observed that although coronaviruses have been around for centuries, only two groups of them – alpha coronaviruses and beta coronaviruses - infect human beings. The other two groups do not infect human beings.
According to an article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Covid-19 evolved from a beta coronavirus and is among the deadliest infectious diseases to have emerged in recent history. See Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 2020 September 103(3): 955-959. Thus, while the broader group of coronaviruses has been around for hundreds of years, Covid-19 is a specific virus that has not been around for 90 or more years, and its threat to us is real. Finally, not everyone recovers from Covid-19, and even those who do or who do not have symptoms can transmit the virus to other people. Some of those other people may not recover.
While some people who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine developed blood clots, as of this writing on April 14, we don’t know what caused those blood clots. And there are two other vaccines against Covid-19.
As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” For the pandemic to be over, all of us must do our part. In addition to wearing a mask and keeping a safe physical distance, getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is doing your part to make this pandemic be over.
A former Navy officer, Bob Soltys earned a degree in biology from Indiana University. He divides his time between Lakewood and Paris.
A photographer and former Navy officer, Bob Soltys divides his time between Lakewood and Paris.