Understanding the challenges surrounding COVID-19 vaccination campaigns – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology
This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Mr. Vishwajit GV, first year medical student at Coimbatore Medical College, Tamil Nadu, India. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.
Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or mocha. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Covaxin. Which one is your favorite?
Mistrust, depression, anxiety, anger, selfishness and sadness. The flavors of 2020. What seemed like a stay of melancholy in a corner of the world has become a perpetual tunnel of despair. The light at the end of the tunnel appeared, with the hope of a vaccine.
It is true that ‘A good start is half done’, but there are multiple barriers to overcome, from maintaining the vaccine cold chain to building people’s trust. Since the start of the pandemic, an infodemic has raged among the general public. The transmissions of messages have spread faster than the disease itself. Most people rely on social media for information rather than official sources, which makes them vulnerable to misinformation.
Previously, vaccine development took decades, but companies managed to complete trials and ship vaccines in almost a year. This created a climate of mistrust and fueled rumors. Rumors feed on people’s fear and panic invades the mind, preventing proper judgment. In addition, the fear of being caught in the crossfire between vaccine manufacturers and of being declared collateral leads to a cautious attitude. The leaders themselves are at the heart of the infodemic. Drinking vodka, irradiating UV light and injecting yourself with disinfectant – are some wise words from public figures. How do you expect the same government that makes such claims to send out a vaccine and expect to be trusted?
Moderna and Pfizer have introduced new mRNA technology into vaccines, persuading the masses about efficacy and safety is another task ahead. Reading the information about the adverse health effects caused, skipping clinical trials and speeding up the vaccine manufacturing process has shaken our beliefs in the vaccine. “Let them go first and see” is the watchword.
Shipping the vaccine to countries around the world is a logistical nightmare. It is a game of diplomacy and domination. Some nations are forced to purchase vaccines on the basis of the country of origin, rather than on the basis of safety and efficacy. In order to secure economic ties and maintain cordial relations. It can cause delays, compromise security, and rob people of the best.
Another obstacle is maintaining optimal storage conditions. Vaccines developed using mRNA technology require freezing temperatures, putting additional strain on already strained health systems in poor and developing countries.
A house that is divided against itself cannot stand. We cannot save the fear of people in the thirst for power and wealth. Nations must be in tune with each other when it comes to technological development. Transparency must be maintained and health reports must be carefully organized.
I ask you again, what is your favorite flavor? Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Covaxin.
I’m sorry, but you don’t choose for yourself anyway.
About the Author
Vishwajit GV is a first year medical student at Coimbatore Medical College, Tamil Nadu, India. He is a general member of the Association of Medical Students of India.
Staying in a multicultural environment allows him to be a broad thinker and an effective communicator. Volunteering in several projects made him aware of global issues and set him on the path to change from the grassroots.