Editor's Comment

Fear deadly COVID not vaccine

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) is mandated to, among other things, advocate universal health care, monitor public health risks, coordinate responses to health emergencies and promote human health and well-being.
It also provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey.
Given its mandate, WHO is, therefore, better placed to give an authentic or rather expert view on COVID-19 vaccines.
With the coming of COVID vaccines, there have been so many voices. Among the loudest are those questioning the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.
This has created fear among people, leading to slow uptake of the vaccine. Zambia procured the first batch of AstraZeneca last month and the uptake was initially very slow though now there is a modicum of improvement.
Many people have been sceptical about taking the vaccine due to the myths being propagated by some sections of society.
Unfortunately, these myths are being propagated by non-health experts.
Now that the country is in the process of considering adding another vaccine – Sinopharm – to its vaccines basket, we will not be surprised if these same people revive their crusade of instilling fear in the general public.
But the truth of the matter is that these vaccines go through vigorous and rigorous efficacy tests before being approved for use.
Just like in the case of AstraZeneca, WHO has assured Zambians that Sinopharm, a Chinese vaccine, passed the efficacy tests before being approved for emergency use.
As such, WHO representative in Zambia Nathan Bakyaita has urged citizens not be afraid of being immunised against coronavirus with Sinopharm.
As rightly stated by Dr Bakyaita, the global health organisation does not allow any vaccine to be given to countries without undergoing stringent efficacy tests.
According to Dr Bakyaita, Sinopharm has been included to the WHO-approved list of vaccines and it is available for COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) and governments to buy.
“The moment a vaccine is approved by WHO, it means the manufacturers have provided information on how it was manufactured, tested and the results have been made available.
“It means WHO has checked its safety, efficacy and quality. If it has been given a go-ahead by WHO, it means it has passed those processes,” said Dr Bakyaita.
So, then, what authority do those opposed to the vaccine rely on other than hearsay? They are, to a large extent, super-spreaders of lies.
It is irresponsible for anyone to mislead the public based on misinformation or sheer ignorance.
The COVID-19 vaccination exercise is a very important one because it borders on life and death.
We believe that, at this stage, no one is ignorant of the devastating effects of COVID-19. All have experienced it in one way or the other.
Loved ones have been lost and economies devastated due to COVID-19. Many people have lost jobs due to closure of companies. Others have been infected but luckily survived. These are living testimonies of how deadly the pandemic is.
Now that we have transitioned into winter, people need to protect themselves even more against the pandemic, which is known to thrive more in the cold season.
It is, therefore, everyone’s responsibility to ensure that they are safe, and the best way to do so for now is through immunisation.
The public should not be blinded by naysayers and outright peddlers of lies who are spreading unsubstantiated information about vaccines.
The public have no cause to fear being vaccinated because the health experts have done the due diligence as obligated by their professional ethos.
WHO is a responsible and credible organisation which should be taken by its word.
We do not expect WHO to put nations at risk by approving unsafe vaccines.
The public should respect the guidance given by experts through WHO.
Above all, instead of fearing vaccines based on misinformation, people should redirect that fear to COVID-19 because it is deadly.

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