The development of a Covid-19 vaccine has evoked mixed feelings, among them vociferous criticism based on an array of allegations including Biblical, the apocalyptic number 666 prophesied in Chapter 13 of the Book of Revelations.
It is quite disturbing that all critics of the vaccine are not schooled in either medicine, pharmacology or microbiology. In short they have been doing so simply because, like every Mosotho, the National Constitution guarantees that freedom of expression and, even more unfortunately, they had access to both mainstream and social media to spew their poppycock.
For what it’s worth, there are legitimate reasons to criticise the vaccine, questioning details of the development process and its precise effectiveness. But it is important not to overhype the problems, after all it could become a powerful weapon against Covid-19.
AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s high-profile announcement was followed by promising headline results, whereupon it became clear that the development process had been less than perfect.
Then its CEO admitted there had been problems in the process and pledged to run another study. It was a markedly less smooth launch than rival vaccines.
The issues prompted critical columns and a wave of attacks on social media. But it is important to take the news in context. Scientists always criticise each other’s work; it’s how processes are refined and progress happens. For brand new problems like the Covid-19 coronavirus this is especially so.
Scrutiny like this is part of the process, and needs to be intense because so much is at stake. It is easy to overhype criticisms, and feed unfounded fears of vaccinations.
The results so far suggest that the vaccine works against Covid-19, even if it may take longer to work out exactly how well.
The vaccine has significant advantages over its rivals: it is cheaper and is much easier to store and transport which could ultimately help it reach patients that the other vaccines can’t. Mistakes are not always a disaster; for instance, penicillin was discovered accidentally.