Should the COVID-19 vaccines be enforced?
January 9, 2021 0

Have we reached a point where we have to enforce the COVID-19 vaccines?

At a time when many plans failed to curb the spread of the Corona epidemic with cases reaching an all-time high, whether the deaths rates, that exceeded a million and a half or the infected patients, this epidemic disrupted life in most countries, by disrupting their economies, securities and health systems. The effects of the Coronavirus are not limited to the loss of lives; a large percentage of those affected started to have lung, heart and brain complications that lasted for months after they recover.

Carelessness and lack of awareness from citizens across the world and a reckless disregard for social distancing and quarantine measures with the emergence of a new strain of the virus, whose wave set off in Britain. This new strain is considered more transmissible and more infectious than the old one. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, global companies have issued a set of effective and safe vaccines against the Coronavirus, which has obtained the approval of the American Food and Drug Organization, perhaps the most prominent of which is the “Pfizer” vaccine, which most scientists and researchers praised for its effectiveness. A group of people say that we should be scared of this brand-new vaccine and that we ought to make vaccination optional while another group expressed the necessity to circulate vaccination in the world because it is the only effective solution today to stop the virus and return to our normal pre-COVID-19 life.

So, should the vaccine be optional or mandatory to confront the Corona pandemic?

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The vaccine is considered novel and must be optional

It is not possible to justify obligating the vaccine, as it is against medical ethics.

The International Medical Association in the book “Medical Ethics”, and specifically with the Universal Declaration of Patient Rights in 1995, which regulates the relationship between doctors, patients and society in general, approved the patient’s freedom and independence to act about his health, and the patient alone decides whether to take the treatment or not. The role of doctors is limited to guidance and direction, and they do not have any right to compel the patient to take treatment, let alone get vaccinated with a brand-new vaccine. The clinical trials of this vaccine have lasted only a few months, and its side effects are still unclear, especially in the long run. Forcing people to get vaccinated contradicts with their rights to act about their body and may expose them to great dangers in the future. Human beings are not lab rats for pharmaceutical companies, especially since the company that produced the “Pfizer” vaccine was clear that it does not take any responsibility for the side effects of the vaccine.

The vaccine may not work on the new strain of the COVID-19

The emergence of a new strain of the Coronavirus, whose wave started in Britain, which may not be in line with the new vaccine that was newly manufactured at an incredible speed in the history of drugs and vaccines. Besides, the ultimate permit will be after following up the clinical results of those who took the trial vaccine and following the extent of their resistance to the disease and the extent to which the antibodies remain in their bodies. Thus, the real effectiveness of any vaccine will appear upon application, and, after that, all results and inquiries related to it and its effectiveness can be drawn even if it is only at the level of clinical trials.

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It is very possible that the ultimate efficacy of the vaccine, when releasing it, would contradict, like before, with other vaccines. Dr. Husam Zamorli, a doctor at Pavia hospital, Lombardy region, northern Italy, indicated to one of the international channels that the lack of trust in private and public institutions such as the World Health Organization is due to its confusion in dealing with the Corona pandemic, as well as its conflicting opinions regarding the effectiveness of some medicines, exactly like what happened before with the drug, Remdesivir. This drug was initially promoted as an effective medicine. Then, the World Health Organization retreated and approved its ineffectiveness (Sky News Arabia), and this is a good enough reason for people to fear the vaccine and refuse it, especially the elderly, as they are the most affected by the Corona pandemic.

Old people have an aging immune system, and according to Dr. Shayan Sharif, a professor specializing in the science of vaccines at the Canadian University of Guelph, most immune cells lose their function with age. He also confirms that it is rare to work on vaccines for the elderly in the world because immunology works in favor of childhood diseases, and, after that, we depend on people’s immunological memory. This virus is new, and the elderly cannot stand in the face of these new diseases. How can we possibly risk their lives and force them to get vaccinated?

Tightening the lockdown and enforcing quarantine measures is our best option

Staying on the current situation and tightening the lockdown and quarantine measures are the most effective ways to control the virus. Many countries in the world have succeeded in the past months to control the virus and coexist with it by taking very strict measures and punishing violators while spreading awareness. Many countries coexisted with the virus and returned to normal life even before the release of the vaccine. Moreover, the new virus is not considered more dangerous; it is rather faster in spreading and infecting, which was confirmed by scientists. This can be confronted, however, by returning to a total quarantine.

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There is no scientific justification for refusing vaccination, and it is the only solution today to return to normal life and save the health system.

Patients lack the scientific expertise and knowledge

Medical ethics are subject to change and are not static, and this is what the World Medical Association states in the book “Medical Ethics”, as some aspects of medical ethics have already changed over the years in several behaviors after the development of technology, medical science, etc.  New ethical issues have arose which medical ethics, in its traditional sense, cannot resolve, such as genetics, reproductive science, and vaccines that require the doctor to be independent and to intervene as he or she is the only one who determines what is beneficial or harmful to the patient. It is not possible to compare the simple regular treatments entrusted to the will of the patient with a global and deadly epidemic like the current Coronavirus.

The global health and health security today require compromising the will of the patient and forcing them to get vaccinated without waiting for their opinion, which is tinged with fear and delusion and lacks scientific perspective. This vaccine, even though it is new, is licensed by the state supervisory authority for medicines, health care products and licenses which issue vaccines without any haste or disregard for any aspect, and they are very strict according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. According to the discussions in the FDA committee meeting, the vaccine is safe and adheres to the safety conditions as it recently went through many stages of development. Furthermore, scientists who developed previous vaccines do not disagree today with the vaccines despite the existence of control and quality assurance mechanisms that did not exist in the past.

There has also been great financial support from governments which contributed to speeding up the vaccine development, but epidemiologists and viral diseases and vaccines experts agree that the vaccines that have been developed are safe and effective. Thus, there is no justification today for being afraid or anxious and leaving the matter in the hands of the patient who follow their delusions and not scientific facts. Not all patients have the same degree of awareness, and it is known that humans are quickly affected by false news and rumors. If we leave it in the hands of the patient, the vaccine will not spread enough, and, thus, we will not achieve positive results in controlling the virus.

The vaccination accounts for the virus mutations

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Scientists and researchers believe, according to the British newspaper, “The Independent”, that the new strain of the Coronavirus does not cause more severe symptoms of Covid-19 or increase the death rate, and there is no scientific evidence that the new vaccines are not compatible with the new strain of the virus or lose their effectiveness. The scientific data indicate today that the new Corona vaccine is effective with the new strain of the virus that has mutated and made the virus spread rapidly by 70%. However, it did not change in the level of severity according to the experts of “Imperial College London”, but the emergence of these mutations today ascertains the importance of making vaccination mandatory because the virus has become more transmissible. This is what scientists confirm in the event the virus is not contained. The health system may collapse within weeks because traditional plans such as social distancing and wearing masks will not be effective at a time when all early clinical trials indicate that the new vaccine generates a reliable and safe immune response. Moreover, side effects are limited to fatigue and headaches like other vaccines, which is very normal compared to the effects of the Coronavirus on human health in the long term. Thus, there is compelling scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defense against this dangerous infection.

With regard to the fear of diseases that may be caused by the new vaccine, it is known that vaccines do not cause diseases, they rather help in forming an anti-virus in the body and identifying the virus. Until now, there is no scientific evidence that any of the components of the vaccine cause harm when used. On the contrary, there is even no danger on the elderly as they, along with workers in the health sector, are the main focus in this whole thing, and the licensing was studied in all aspects, including age and other things.

Maintaining the current status-quo is ineffective

Maintaining the current situation and making vaccination optional is ineffective today, and it is not possible to completely return to complete lockdowns because this will cost countries a lot at all levels, especially on the economic level. The disease will not stop spreading, especially with the mutation, and it is not possible to count in these circumstances on the awareness of citizens only because both the awareness and the culture of society differ completely from one society to another. This is what we see in the ways people deal with the disease – their recklessness in wearing masks and social distancing.

Here, we assert the need to start the vaccination process and to make it mandatory to rid ourselves of the virus in order to return to normal life, as the epidemic is global and harmful to all people on earth.

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By: Abir Majrouh – QatarDebate ambassador from Tunis

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