Vaccines: Science vs. Belief

The population is divided between those who consult the literature, read it carefully and make decisions based on the published data about what to accept or not (that’s me, when it comes to medical science); those who do not consult or do not understand the published data in a certain field, but who trust the institutions, universities, companies, schools, associations and certified experts on the subject and therefore accept the facts and follow the recommendations (that’s me when it comes to, for example, astronomy, aeronautics, agronomy or engineering); and those who do not accept anything, do not read or explore the literature, and forge a belief supported by arguments from a video or interview of what someone has said on social media, television or radio (something I never do). The most curious thing is that those in this third group perceive themselves to be very intelligent because they have discovered various plots that a superior mind has devised to control us, and they address the rest of the population as though they were prophets attempting to awaken us from our slumbers.

Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies showing that the humoral response and neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 is better when using the bivalent vaccine which includes several sequences of the omicron strain and other more recent mutations. This result was to be expected, because if the vaccine used only has the sequences of a virus that has already mutated, the immune response against the mutated virus will obviously be less effective. Of course, this had to be demonstrated. Science is based not on beliefs but on results. Apparently, it is better to use new vaccines with sequences closer to the latest variant. The virus mutates so fast that it is impossible to develop a new vaccine at the same speed, but the closer it is the better. Unfortunately, for political rather than scientific reasons, in Mexico we will not have access to bivalent vaccines, only to those made with the original sequence. This leads to increased inequality, because those who have the means to go abroad to receive a better vaccine can, while those without cannot.

On social media recently, a member of the third group accused me of dishonesty because “I keep recommending Covid vaccines when they have already been proven to be a fraud.” Dishonesty is doing something contrary to what you already know is right (like a certain fashionable person). If the data published in one of the most prestigious journals in the world convince you that vaccines are effective, it is not dishonesty to recommend them. If during 2020 at the Institute* we saw hundreds of patients die from COVID-19, and since the introduction of the vaccines mortality has been decreasing until it has practically disappeared, it is not dishonest to recommend them. To say that it has already been proven that vaccines are a fraud has no real basis in reality and only exists in the imagination of those who have decided to make their lives a crusade in favor of an unfounded belief. I am sure after publishing this editorial I will receive aggressive tweets, accompanied by a video of someone who, with microphone in hand, assures me that vaccines are useless, which, I insist, is proof enough for them.

COVID-19 vaccines have been instrumental in returning the world back to its current state of openness. However, we must remain vigilant because the virus mutates frequently. It is likely that boosters containing new sequences will be required for years to come.

*Editor’s Note: The author is affiliated with the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition and the Institute of Biomedical Research at The National Autonomous University of Mexico and could be referring to either one.

About this publication

About Stephen Routledge 163 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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