Social media has been responsible for the spread of much false Covid-10 information. It is critical for healthcare professionals to dispel false information. Following are 5 myths about Covid-19 and the actual facts.
Myth #1: Covid-19 Vaccine will give you Covid-19.
FACT: Neither of the current vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) being administered in the US under FDA Emergency Use Authorization contain live virus and they cannot cause Covid-19. Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines utilize mRNA to code for production of the Covid-19 coronovirus spike protein – not the entire virus, only the spike protein. This then mobilizes the immune system to mount a response to the spike protein and create antibodies against the virus. The antibodies can latch onto coronavirus spikes, mark the virus for destruction and prevent infection by blocking the spikes from attaching to other cells. Both vaccines are given in two doses and have been demonstrated in clinical trials to be 94-95% effective in preventing Covid-19.
None of the other vaccines currently under development in the United States (including the Oxford-AstraZenica DNA vaccine) contain live virus and therefore cannot cause Covid-19.
Myth #2: The Covid-19 Vaccine will cause you to test positive for Covid-19.
FACT: Neither of the current vaccines being administered in the US (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) nor any of the US vaccines currently under development would cause anyone to test positive for Covid-19. However, if your body develops an immune response after being vaccinated and you take an ANTIBODY test, there is a possibility that the test result could be impacted. MOLECULAR tests look for genetic material that comes only from the virus and therefore should not be impacted if the individual being tested has had the vaccine.
Covid-19 Facts vs Myths
Myth #3: If I’ve had Covid-19 I won’t benefit from the vaccine.
FACT: Per the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.
The level of immunity (as determined by the level of antibodies) varies greatly between people who’ve been previously infected. If you had a very mild COVID-19 infection, your immune system may not have formed enough antibodies. And the same can be true for those who experienced a more severe form of the disease. A study published in Frontiers in Immunology in May 2020 found that the COVID-19 infection was so overpowering in hospitalized patients that their immune response became exhausted, and immune memory to the virus wasn’t adequately formed.
More evidence is needed to determine the risk of reinfection in previously infected people, as well as how long their protective immunity lasts. Protection and immunity due to neutralizing antibodies may weaken and eventually disappear over time, therefore vaccination could be beneficial regardless of whether you had a mild or severe form of COVID-19.
Anyone currently infected with COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until after their illness has resolved and they have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.
Myth #4: I’m healthy and most people have very mild Covid-19, so I won’t need the vaccine. Besides, natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity.
FACT: If you catch the virus you don’t know how severe your illness could be or if you could pass it on to someone else. Trying to get immunity through infection can be very dangerous.
- You may get very sick, or even die.
- You may spread the virus to others, who could also get very sick or die.
- It may not give you as strong of an immune response as the vaccine.
Herd immunity through infection will also take a lot longer. More people will get sick and die. Vaccines are the best and safest way for us to reach herd immunity. It’s how more people can be protected from the virus without getting sick first. A big benefit to a vaccine is that the immunity of the “herd” will also help those who aren’t immune or don’t respond as well to vaccines.
We could get to herd immunity after at least 60 percent of the population has gotten a vaccine or been infected. Vaccines are the safest and fastest way for us to get there. If most people get vaccinated, we can end the pandemic. On the other hand, if we wait for herd immunity to happen through actual infection, it will take a long time and cause a lot of illness and death that could have been avoided.
Myth #5: The vaccine has been developed too quickly. It can’t be safe.
FACT: Even though the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new to humans, coronaviruses have been studied for more than 15 years. Research into coronavirus vaccines has been ongoing for many years, giving us a major head start in understanding the virus and developing vaccines for it.
Some of the steps of developing a vaccine were done simultaneously instead of one after the other. The U.S. government funded the large-scale manufacture of the vaccines before anyone knew if they would be effective. Called Operation Warp Speed, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense partnered with the goal to develop, make, and distribute millions of vaccine doses for COVID-19 as fast as possible while making sure the vaccines are safe and effective.
All vaccine trials follow safety rules. Pfizer and Moderna followed all these rules in their COVID-19 trials. These vaccines have been tested in tens of thousands of people and have only caused mild side effects. They haven’t caused any serious illness or any deaths. These vaccines have been studied in large groups of people from diverse ethnic, racial, and age groups to make sure they’re safe for adults across a wide range of ages, races, and health conditions. The data from these studies were reviewed by an independent group of experts. These experts (in virology, biostatistics, ethics, and public health) do not work for the companies doing the research (or any competing company) or the government. These independent experts are the ones who recommend to the FDA whether or not a vaccine should be approved.