Vaccines most effective strategy to halt pandemic in Nigeria – PROF OGOINA
Vaccines work for intended purpose of manufacture – PROF TOMORI
By Chioma Obinna
Call it a game-changer, disrupter of life; coronavirus disease, aka COVID-19 has remained one outbreak that has deepened the mistrust between citizens and their leaders all over the world.
With over 4.95 million of lives lost globally to the disease, unarguably, the pandemic has humbled world powers as much as developing countries like Nigeria where 2882 people have lost their lives as of 25th of October 2021.
However, coronavirus, an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome was first discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31, 2019.
Despite the disruptions caused by the disease in all aspects of life, the disease has been characterised with all manner of infodemics.
Today, there have been so much confusion, conspiracy theories and fake news around the disease including the vaccines introduced by WHO and scientists around the world to either prevent, stop the spread and ameliorate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the health of individuals.
Sadly, these misinformation championed by even highly placed persons have continued to affect the acceptance of the vaccines despite no scientific proofs. For instance, in Nigeria some clergies have tagged the vaccine as satanic while some say it is the mark of the beast (666).
Some of the misconceptions against the vaccines includes the fact that, “the vaccine can cause infertility in women”, “Covid-19 vaccine alters one’s genetic codes”, “5G network spreads Coronavirus”, “Drinking alcohol reduces the risk of infection”, “Covid-19 vaccines imbed ‘mark-of-the-beast’”, “Real vaccines take years to produce”, “COVID-19 vaccines attract severe side-effects and allergic reactions”, among others.
Sadly, these and more have made the acceptance in Nigeria very low as some Nigerians have ignorantly believed them, thereby promoting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the country.
According to a Professor of Virology, Prof Oyewale Tomori, what is playing out today is no different from what other vaccines have suffered in the past. He insisted the vaccines are safe and effective.
It could be recalled that not too long ago, polio vaccines faced the same rejections in Nigeria in particular. Today, the vaccines have been accepted and saving Nigerians children from complications of world polio virus.
Today, the Covid-19 vaccines are facing similar rejections other vaccines prior to it like vaccines for chickenpox, measles, poliomyelitis also faced. From history, many, particularly Africans rejected chickenpox vaccines as poison then which led to many deaths of children before it gained acceptability.
Tomori said vaccines work for the intended purpose of manufacture and are not the “be all or only” solution to diseases. They are part of the solution, additional ammunition in the defence armoury against diseases, just as you have different types of guns, bullets and other weapons of war.
“Vaccines are prepared from the causative pathogen of a disease either whole or parts of the organism, modified or weakened, so that instead of causing disease when injected into the body, the modified pathogen stimulates the body to mount a defense, in the form of antibodies.
“When next the body is exposed to the original unmodified pathogen, the already sensitised body rapidly produces antibodies to counter the pathogen, destroying it and preventing it from multiplying to cause disease.
“It is important to note the following: not all vaccinations result in immunisation or development of immunity or protection; that is, vaccination is not synonymous with immunisation.
For many reasons, including, the person, the state of his or her health, the vaccine itself, the dose administered, how well preserved, etc….all contribute in one way or another to a vaccination resulting in the development and level of immunity.
This is why vaccines do not attain 100 percent efficacy. It is not the day of vaccination that you develop immunity. It takes anything between 10 to 14 days or more, after full vaccination to develop high level of protection. Therefore, if you get exposed to the pathogen before you are fully protected, you can come down with the disease, get hospitalised and die.
Tomori urged Nigerians to go for vaccination whenever they have the opportunity.
“You are free to ask questions about facilities where the vaccines are kept. Find out, prior to your vaccination, information about the site and their procedures. Get vaccinated; and get your authentic vaccination card. Do not give bribe, to obtain the vaccination. Such a card is fake.
“The fake card does not protect, it is vaccination that protects. COVID disease and COVID vaccine exist. The vaccine protects you against getting sick and dying from the disease. The mask and other non-pharmaceutical interventions prevent you from exposure and possible infection.
Prevention is better than cure; protect your life with all the ammunition in the defense against COVID disease,” he stated.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, Prof Dimie Ogoina, a Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases in the Niger Delta University Amassoma, Bayelsa state, noted that vaccines and the concept of vaccination was as old as the history of Medicine, adding that many years of vaccination has shown that vaccines are generally safe and highly effective in disease prevention.
According to the Consultant Infectious diseases specialist and President of the Nigerian Infectious diseases society vaccines might not be 100 percent effective, but COVID-19 vaccines remain the most effective strategy to halt the challenge of COVID-19.
“In this era of new coronavirus variants, Nigeria can only be safe if the majority of the population get vaccinated.”
Debunking rumours and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccine, the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Prof Umaru Pate who noted that COVID-19 pandemic has globally affected every human endeavour and rendered societies tense, challenged and even insecure said it was untrue that true that 5G helps spread Coronavirus.
“It is also worth noting that Covid-19 has significantly impacted countries with very little 5G coverage, such as Iran. It is also not true that consuming any alcohol poses health risks and may increase vulnerability to Covid-19. The fact is that vaccine is not capable of causing infertility,” he stated.