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Reader View: Controversies unlikely to dissuade people from vaccines but govt must build trust

YourTurn is our weekly feature in which ThePrint's readers share their views or opinions in response to the question of the week.

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New Delhi: In the past few weeks, two Covid-19 vaccines developed by US firms Pfizer and Moderna have shown more than 90 per cent efficacy against the infection. The UK even approved the Pfizer vaccine early last week, and people will begin getting inoculated on 8 December.

However, with the good news there has also been the bad. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also being developed by the Serum Institute of India, found itself in the middle of a controversy when a trial participant claimed that he had an adverse effect after getting injected with it.

Given these developments, we asked readers: Can controversies around Covid vaccines make people hesitant to trust them?

Public in general does not understand science behind vaccine

Covid-19 has not only exposed our health system but also the public’s shallow belief in science and following hygiene protocols. The public in general does not understand detailed physiological parameters and analysis related to vaccine post-effects. Rather, their faith lies in promotion through government institutions, public figures and media. Vaccine distribution will be the prime focus of government in 2021 and they will be compelled to gain the public’s confidence on vaccine safety. The novel coronavirus has destroyed people’s income and jobs, and this combined with poor preventive measures will encourage them to take the vaccine rather than looking at the controversies surrounding it.

Arpit Mathur. Twitter: @mathurarpit21

Development speed, distribution plan has led to trust deficit in vaccines

Since the pandemic, several debates have been going around about the coronavirus vaccine. Earlier, there were controversial theories that the vaccines are already developed but are launched later in order to capture more market or to create more demand. Since the Covid vaccines were made in such a quick time frame, compared to normal vaccine development process that takes a minimum of 10 years, the efficacy is also at stake. There could be longtime health problems on human body due to such vaccines. Along with the vaccine launch, its distribution is also one of the biggest questions in India. This leads to trust issues in the vaccine availability but there is still hope that the pandemic will end soon.

Armin Dastoor, Ahmedabad. Twitter: @ArminDastoor

WHO should check credibility and efficacy of vaccines

Since Covid-19 is new to this world, it is obvious there will be controversies around the vaccines. Every biotech laboratory around the world is engaged in developing a certain type of vaccine but it is the responsibility of world health institutions to check the efficacy and approve these vaccine candidates. There are some countries who claim to have developed the vaccine, but there are still questions about their efficacy. In this scenario, it is the World Health Organization’s responsibility to check the credibility and efficacy of these vaccines to stop the controversies around their development.

Mateen Farooq, Srinagar

Negative news makes people hesitant

Trust and controversies are always correlated with each other. However, controversies surrounding public health need to be analysed and curative steps need to be taken to counter them. Negative news such as trials showing contrary results will make people hesitant. In India, we have been successful in controlling many diseases in the past with vaccination, and human trials are also recorded and monitored well. Let’s hope we will be successful in countering all these negative controversies and make India a healthy nation!

Rachana Oza, Ahmedabad. Twitter: @Rachana92324830

People kept their sanity in hopes of a vaccine, controversies won’t matter

When in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, Red said “Hope is a dangerous thing. It can drive a man insane”, he wasn’t cracking a joke. He was correct. Each one of us sitting at home, is trying to survive just because we are hopeful. Hopeful that things will get better and we will be out of these four walls the day vaccines are ready to use.

So, I don’t think people are going to be hesitant about taking the vaccines because for the past one year, the only thing that has kept people sane is the hope of a vaccine, which will be an end to all this. Whenever vaccines are in the market, they’re not going to be hesitant. And the moment any known personality takes the shot of vaccine, there will, in fact, be scarcity of vaccines. Nobody will even bother about controversies.

Janvi Nagar, Ghaziabad. Twitter @nagar_janvi

Public personalities taking vaccine can tackle fears

Ironically, there has been an inverse trend between fear and casualties of coronavirus. With the research race for the vaccine, results have either been ineffective or have worsened the participants’ health. The Covid vaccine controversies already have the masses hesitant to trust them. In response to this, the decision of leaders such as former US presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush to take the vaccine publicly to assure safety can be a remedy.

Shifa Negi, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Twitter: @negishifa

Controversies have shaken public’s faith in vaccines

Globally, people have pinned their hopes on a Covid-19 vaccine. Many nations, overtly and not-so-overtly, have been engaging in vaccine nationalism with an objective to be the first in the race to administer the vaccine. The recent onslaught of controversies has challenged the efficacy of many vaccines in progress, be it the Serum Institute of India’s feud with a vaccine volunteer or Oxford/Astra Zeneca’s ‘dose error’. These incidents have managed to generate seeds of doubt among the public about vaccine safety and side-effects. Such distrust is further compounded by various conspiracy theories and fake forwards doing the rounds on the internet.

Vinay Agrawal, Mumbai. Twitter: @rockstarvinay

India is eager for vaccines, controversies will make no difference.

The world is divided on the Covid vaccines — from a lack of trust in their efficacy in the west to the eager wait in countries like India. The desperate wait of Indians was evident from our blind following when Patanjali launched ‘Coronil’, where without even a single data source, the majority of the countrymen started sharing its alleged benefits that ‘cured’ Covid. How can we forget Bhabhiji Papar, cow dung bath, gau mutra and other innumerable desi cures, which have seen a decent fan following even from government’s representatives? So, these controversies will hardly impact India’s eagerness to get injected.

Atul Handa. Twitter: @atulhanda

India is an emotional country & will trust vaccines easily

The fear of death and urge for life is something that can ignore any controversy. In this year of Covid, vaccines are more than just panacea. The hope which they carry are larger and deeper than any controversy. People will take vaccines with immense trust since India is an emotional country and trusts easily. Therefore, we will all give the vaccines a chance to keep our trust and the trust of humanity. Let’s distance ourselves from controversies.

Nanditesh Nilay

Not everyone has ‘luxury’ of vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy, fundamentally, is a very insular phenomenon usually displayed in countries where disease prevalence is low and where people have the ‘luxury’ to question pharmaceutical companies that claim to vaccinate them against diseases they can’t ‘see’. But for a pandemic, which people not only see but also feel it destroying their health, economy and freedom, hesitancy becomes vestigial. The controversies being raised regarding ‘process of manufacturing’ may dissuade some people against vaccination in the short-run but in the long-run, the value of process is trumped by the product. For instance, not many environmental activists have disputed the manufacturing of mRNA genetically-modified Covid vaccines that are produced with a process that has historically been contended as being dangerous to the environment.

Anshuman Shukla, Lucknow. Twitter: @anshullectual

Also read: Reader View: Night curfew to control Covid futile, weekend restrictions could limit spread


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