Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

COVID Vaccination – a false sense of security?

With our state of Victoria in Australia – and specifically the city of Melbourne where I am staying – having come out of many weeks of lock-down last month after successfully controlling the COVID outbreak, I have been busy as I get back to work and so have been unable to contribute recent posts on my webpage.

But with the impending rollout of COVID vaccinations in both Australia and Sri Lanka (the countries I am most concerned about!) I felt it important to write this piece about the COVID vaccinations – specifically what we can and cannnot expect from vaccination.

From the fast tracked Russian vaccine that was approved for widespread use as far back as August last year to the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat-Biotech vaccines rolled out by India in January, to the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines popular in the US and the Sinotech vaccine in widespread use in China, many countries have initiated vaccination programmes which will see a large number of people artificially provided with protection against this deadly disease by the end of this year.

But it is worth knowing a couple of facts about COVID vaccination lest we be lulled into a false sense of security which could jeopardise the whole business of getting this COVID pandemic under control

  1. Getting the COVID vaccine will only protect the vaccinated person from getting seriously ill with COVID infection if they catch the virus.

COVID disease is caused by the COVID virus – which can be passed on from one person to another by close physical contact. Someone harbouring the virus can give it to someone else by touching them, coughing or sneezing onto them, or touching something (like a doorknob or pen) with virus on their hand that can then be picked up by the next person touching that same doorknob or pen.

Catching the virus does not mean that one automatically gets the disease – one gets sick with this infection (seriously and life-threateningly sick) if the virus invades the cells of the airways. Some people who pick up the virus remain well – or have only mild symptoms – because their own immune systems (with or without the benefit of expensive drugs like Remdesevir) can deal with the virus that has entered their bodies and they recover with minimal after effects.

It is well known that of a hundred people who catch the virus, about 80 to 85 recover with no major symptoms while about 15 to 20 will get seriously ill, requiring hospitalisation and even management in an intensive care unit. Of these 15 to 20 unfortunate ones, about 2 to 4 will die.

The unfortunate thing is that we cannot predict which of the people who catch COVID will get seriously and life threateningly ill. Young children and previously fit and healthy adults as well as old people with diabetes or emphysema have all succumbed to the virus.

So getting vaccinated will only ensure that even if the virus manages to enter your body, it cannot make your seriously ill.

2. Someone who has received the vaccine can still catch the virus and pass it on to others

Since vaccination cannot prevent you from picking up the virus, we still do not know with certainty whether it will prevent you passing the virus lurking in your throat on to others – who if they have NOT been vaccinated, can catch the virus from you and become seriously ill. A possible explanation is that the new vaccine is effective at preventing disease, but that the virus that causes COVID disease may still be able to “live within our bodies”.

Says Dr Kylie Quinn, Vaccine expert at the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne “It is really hard to say at this point whether any of these vaccines is impacting infection rates – and how they’re impacting the likelihood of someone who is vaccinated pssing the infection onto other people”

So even if you have been vaccinated, you must not forget the simple rules of preventing transmission to others – wear masks, wash your hands as often as possible and avoid touching, hugging and coughing onto others.

Those to whom you unknowingly pass on the virus may not have the protection you have. If they acquire the virus from you, they can get sick – and die.

Vaccination alone will not secure the world against the COVID pandemic!


2 comments on “COVID Vaccination – a false sense of security?

  1. Sri Varman
    January 12, 2021

    I wonder how the world got over Spanish flu
    which killed an estimated 50 million people
    and infected many more. No antibiotics
    no antiviral medication, no ventilators.
    Only positive was that there was no international or much internal travel like now.S


  2. Les Mumford
    January 13, 2021

    Thank you so much for your very clear explanation of what protection the vaccine can, cannot and may not provide for humanity. Your informative article should be picked up by all forms of the media to really inform the public instead of the silly on-line grabs they are so fond of.
    Arguably, the best cure is education of us all, no matter where we live.
    Thank you again, doctor.


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This entry was posted on January 12, 2021 by in covid, Health Matters, Opinion and tagged .

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