By Philip S. Chua, MD.
The other day, I received a startling video clip from a friend in Texas, who forwarded it from his Messenger account, showing a nurse being interviewed after getting the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. The video showed she felt ill right there and then, and passed out. The video clip ended there. The printed message on the video said ““Nurse died after taking shot of covid vaccine.”
Tiffany Dover, a nurse at CHI Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who fainted after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, was wildly circulated in the social media around the world as having died from the shot.
News like this will obviously create fear and panic among people who are waiting to get the vaccine and may opt out of it. That would be a disaster. The public is already worried about the safety of the vaccines, because they were developed rapidly (about 11 months rather than the old conventional way, which took years, even decades, to develop).
COVID-19 data update
Currently, worldwide, there are almost 81.8 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1.8 million deaths; USA – about 19.8 million and 344,000 deaths; and, The Philippines – around 472,000 cases and 9,200 deaths. A new strain (variant) with 20 mutations of SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) virus, 70 percent more transmissible, is spreading in the United Kingdom, first detected December 14, 2020. Other countries with this new strain include Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia. All passengers on flights from the UK to the USA are now required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the flight. It is not certain at this point that if this new strain is already in the United States.
An egregious act
Whoever maliciously crafted the incomplete video and the resultant half-truth, fake news, must be censured. CHI Hospital confirmed Tiffany, who had a previous history of vago-vagal reaction to stress or anxiety (the reason she fainted after the shot) is alive and well and back to work. Fake news, false information like this, are instantly circulate throughout the world in this day and age of the high speed internet and social media. The harm this person has done, obviously intentional, could kill countless people, especially those gullible, innocent, and ignorant, who would develop deathly fear of the vaccine and refuse to get it. The act, an abuse of our first amendment right by an apparently mentally deranged person, borders on criminality. It is a great disservice to mankind as a whole. If we cannot help end this ravaging pandemic, we must at least not endeavor to worsen it and kill more people around the globe. As recipients of fake news, we, on the other hand, have the responsibility not to disseminate them, without doing a due diligence first. All lives matter. All lives are valuable. We have more than enough deaths!
Scientifically, the impressive speed with which these anti-COVID-19 vaccines evolved was due to a newly discovered faster, more efficient, process (with mRNA) in vaccine manufacturing. There was no rush or short cuts taken here. The same strict, rigid, intensive laboratory and 3-stage clinical, evidence-based, randomized studies and trials were followed, involving at least 80,000 subjects for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and released for public use a week ago only after passing the stringent safety milestone of, and approval by, the US-FDA. With this new and improved process of vaccine production, future vaccines will also be developed faster.
As we have stated in an earlier article, simply because vehicles today are manufactured a lot faster than those of 80 years, or even 50 years ago, does not mean our cars of today are less safe. As a matter of fact, with the amenities and smart features in vehicles today, they are a lot safer, more comfortable, and a joy to drive. The faster speed of development is due to more efficient, more precise way of manufacturing vehicles today.
Of course, vaccines, medications, surgical procedures are not perfect, not 100 percent without risk or possible complications. Life is full of risk. We have all read about people crossing the streets, climbing ladders, biking, skiing, etc., who were killed. That is reality. The trick is not to abandon them, but to evaluate and take all precautions.
Shot or no shot
As far as the vaccines against SARS-CoV2 virus of COVID-19, what we have to weigh is which one is less risky, less deadly to have. The scale definitely, scientifically, practically, wisely, tips in favor of getting the vaccine. Its no brainer. We must take advantage of what modern medicine has to offer to save our life and maintain good health.
Those with history of allergies are observed at the place of vaccination for at least 15 after the vaccine is given. All those facilities have anti-allergy medications, steroids, etc., in readiness, even for more severe reactions. This reassuring.
In one clinical study of quarter of million people given the anti-COVID-19 vaccine, there were six who developed allergic severe reactions, a miniscule incidence of 0.000024 percent. Evidently, as the manufacturers announced, these vaccines are safe. More common side effects noted are pain in the area of the shot, fever, tiredness, and headache, which last for a day or two.
The world, each country, would acquire herd immunity and stop this pandemic only when 75 percent of the(ir) population got the anti-COVID-19 two-shot vaccine.
After getting the shot, all of us should behave as if we have not had it yet, continuing our frequent handwashing, limiting ourselves to essential travels, using facemask and doing social distancing. This is the safe demeanor post-vaccination, because there are a lot we do not know about the clinical course of the vaccines. The vaccines are new and the medical community and the public should (would) learn more about it: How long after the vaccination does protection (immunity) start, and at what level (about 52 percent after the first week? How about after the first day, second day, etc.?). During this first week of vaccination, can we still get the infection, and can we still transmit the virus to others? After the required second shot (21 days for the Pfizer-BioNTech and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine), how much protection do we get and when do we get the 95 percent the manufacturers reported, and for how long? Do we have to get the vaccine every year like the seasonal Flu vaccine? Anyway, hope is now here. We must be grateful.
In the meantime, let us rejoice the vaccines are here, the silver lining, the light at the end of the tunnel, which hopefully symbolizes the beginning of the end of this COVID-19 pandemic within next year. We are all in this together globally. Let love, compassion, and peace reign as we usher in a healthier and more prosperous new year for the world.