Immunologist Dr Clive Landis and the rest of a UWI panel have unequivocally said there are no microchips in the covid19 vaccine.
Landis said many people were confusing the mRNA used in vaccines, which disappeared very quickly after entering the body, with viruses like HIV, which integrate into the body and change someone’s DNA.
The panel discussion on Tuesday on Covid19 Vaccines: Truths and Untruths dispelled a number of other myths and misconceptions around the vaccines.
The panel, comprising doctors from various faculties at UWI St Augustine, took pre-recorded questions as well as questions from social media and via WhatsApp.
Landis said the vaccines give instructions to the body on how to fight the vaccine, and basically contain the same ingredients.
He explained the reason why scientists were able to create vaccines so fast was that on January 9, 2020, Chinese scientists distributed the information about the spike protein that the covid19 virus uses for transmission.
“They were able to do this because scientists had been studying covid-like viruses since 2003, when SARS-COV-1 emerged, followed by MERS in 2012.
"Vaccines are inherently safe, as they have no infectious material in them. All the vaccines in use around the world have had approval by the regulatory agencies in the countries they are being used in.”
Dean of Medical Sciences Dr Terrence Seemungal said while scientists are now beginning to believe the vaccine can cause clots, this happened extremely rarely, with one case in a million occurring in the UK.
“The odds of dying in a car crash in TT, by way of comparison, are 163 in one million. But you’re likely to get a ride from someone if they offer you one.
"If you feel you’re having the symptoms of a blood clot, go to the nearest emergency centre. There’s evidence emerging as to how they can be treated.”
He said once people had taken the vaccine, they should not take immunosuppressants for a few weeks unless absolutely necessary, so as not to affect the vaccine’s intended effects.
Public health lecturer Dr Jeremy Edwards said the vaccines build resistance to the virus and also reduce the risk of someone having complications, severe illness, being hospitalised or dying if they do get the virus after being vaccinated. He said full immunity comes three weeks after getting the second dose of the vaccine.
But not enough was known, he said, about how vaccines prevented people from catching the disease or passing it on to others. So people should still follow the public health protocols, including masking, washing their hands and physically distancing, after being vaccinated.
Behavioural Sciences head Dr Talia Esnard said people should be cautious about the information they are taking in about the virus. She said the medical profession needed to do more to combat vaccine hesitancy before it became vaccine refusal. She said there could be a mental-health crisis among younger people when the pandemic ends, as a continuation of pandemic fatigue.
Landis said the reason people had different side effects from the vaccine was due to the strength of their immune systems.
“Some people just have a more effusive reaction. Younger people have more effective, stronger immune systems than older people, so older people would have less of a reaction to the vaccine. I tell younger people who are having bad reactions that it means their immune systems is really healthy.”
Professor of molecular genetics and virology Christine Carrington said while the vaccines would be less effective against fighting the different variants, they still were effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death.
When asked what the science was supporting the belief that the virus is being spread at beaches, restaurants and bars, Landis said it is spread through shouting, singing and speaking. He said in areas such as those, people tend to come up to each other and shout. He said the virus has also been shown to be transmitted faster in enclosed spaces.
Carrington said, “The rate at which we arrive at herd immunity will depend entirely on the public going and getting the vaccine once we have sufficient supply in the country to vaccinate everyone.”
The discussion can be watched on UWITV's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UWITV/videos/2450208005125112/