There are a number of myths and misconceptions regarding Covid and the Covid vaccine.
The British Islamic Medical Association has put together some helpful and reassuring information to answer the myths and provide some clarification (https://www.britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/covidmyths/#ATM) :
- MYTH: Covid is no more dangerous than flu
Covid kills up to 10 times more people than flu. It also impacts more people for longer and spreads much quicker.
- MYTH: Covid is being spread by 5G
Covid is spreading in countries without 5G. There is no scientific connection between Covid and 5G.
- MYTH: The Covid Vaccine causes irreversible side effects
No Patient has so far suffered from irreversible side effects – in trials or the population. All medicines have the potential to cause side effects, but this needs to be weighed up against the harm of Covid.
- MYTH: Covid deaths are being exaggerated
Covid deaths are most likely under-reported rather than exaggerated.
The majority of Covid declared deaths have a positive swab. A minority are recorded as Covid without a swab if the radiological picture or symptoms strongly suggest Covid in the absence of any other explanation and doing a post-death swab is undesirable/impractical. This is in keeping with normal medical practice.
- MYTH: Doctors want to force people to have the vaccine
Doctors simply want people to make up their own minds and make an informed decision based on facts
Most countries rely on education rather than dictation to convince the population.
However, it would be irresponsible not to highlight areas where people are being misled – sometimes deliberately and dangerously.
- MYTH: Vaccine contain microchips to track the population
Independent authorities across the world have not found any evidence of microchips. It would be easier to track your phone, bank cards, etc…
- MYTH: Vaccines are unsafe – that is why no pregnant women were in trials.
Pregnant women and children are not usually in initial trials.
The current COVID vaccines are not recommended for most children at this stage. The guidance for pregnant women is to take a decision based on risk. This does not mean it is unsafe in these groups.
- MYTH: Pharmaceutical companies are all evil so we can’t trust them.
We should not reject everything they do. We take painkillers, antibiotics and chemotherapy medicine from the same companies.
AstraZeneca, the company working with Oxford University on its vaccine, has promised to sell the vaccine at cost – meaning it is not making a profit. This also makes the vaccine much more affordable (£3 a dose rather than £15-£20) for less prosperous countries. Pfizer refused any government funding, investing millions of the company’s own money and taking on the financial risk.
- MYTH: The vaccine was approved too quickly to be safe
The speed of approval was mainly due to cutting red tape rather than corners. There has been unprecedented worldwide scientific collaboration and funding to create the Covid vaccine. This global effort has allowed scientists to work at record speed, and complete years or work in months.
- MYTH: The vaccine may modify your DNA
There is no way that RNA can change the DNA of anyone. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine uses mRNA technology which teaches our cells to make a protein that triggers a protective immune response. The mRNA is broken down soon after it enters the body, and never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA is.
- MYTH: The PCR test is inaccurate and overestimating Covid infections.
No test is 100% accurate but there is no evidence to suggest that the concerns regarding Covid infections and the severity of this disease are misplaced.
Whilst there are false positives and false negatives, data including the number of hospitalisations with symptoms of Covid and number of deaths give a good indication of how serious the situation is.
- MYTH: The Inventor of the PCR Test said it was not made to detect diseases such as Covid.
There is no evidence that Dr Kate Mullis, the inventor of the PCR process, ever said this. The PCR process helps scientists to detect genetic material. If a sample contains the genetic material of the Covid virus then the test will be positive. Dr Mullis died in August 2019, months before the first case of Covid was reported.
- MYTH: 99.97% recover from Covid, but 3% from major side effects from the vaccine
These numbers are false. We should remember that millions of people have died from the virus and millions more are suffering long term complications.
The small risk in minimal and often short term side effects of the vaccine do not outweigh the risk of long term complications or death from COVID.
- MYTH: Wearing a mask is bad for your health
There is no evidence to suggest that wearing a mask is bad for your health, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest it can protect. We all have a role to play in reducing the spread of Covid. We must continue to practive social distancing, wearing masks and handwashing to help reduce the spread of Covid.
- MYTH: We should just wait for heard immunity
Waiting for heard immunity would be disastrous, the number of deaths that would occur is simply not acceptable.
- MYTH: If hospitals are so busy where are the Nightingale hospitals empty.
The Nightingale Hospitals were set up as ITU and not many other facilities. There’s no extra staff to run them at present.
Hospitals have struggled with the number of new hospitalisations due to Covid. This is on top of the usual NHS functions that have to be delayed – such as elective surgery.
- MYTH: A nurse took the Covid vaccine and died on camera
The nurse fainted. After recovering, she had a press conference to say she has fainted previously when in pain. The nurse recovered. The vaccines have been approved after analysis of safety data from clinical trials involving tens of thousands of patients.
- MYTH: There is no point getting vaccinated due to new Covid strains.
There is currently no evidence to suggest the vaccines will not protect against the new strains.
It is normal for viruses such as the flu virus to go through genetic changes.
Scientists are looking at the characteristics of the new strains. Small variations do not often affect the effectiveness of a vaccine.
- MYTH: The Covid vaccine contains Genetically Modified Organisms which are harmful to humans.
The virus in the AZ vaccine has been modified so it cannot multiply and cause disease in out body.
GMOs are commonly associated with food and agriculture and have been used in licensed medicines for a number of years. In the AZ vaccine, the virus has been altered to remove its usual genetic instruction, this has been replaced with instruction to help develop immunity to Covid.
- MYTH: The Covid vaccine can give you Covid
No, you cannot get Covid from the vaccine.
The Covid vaccines teach our immune system how to recognise and fight the virus that causes COVID.
This process can cause side effects which are usually mild. The current vaccines cannot make you sick with Covid.
- MYTH: Covid vaccines can make you infertile
There is no evidence to suggest that the Covid vaccines cause infertility.
This myth started when a German epidemiologist suggested that the COVID vaccine would cause the body to make certain antibodies. He admitted there was no indication that this was the case.
A number of women who had the vaccine in the trial have since become pregnant.
MYTH: Catching Covid after having the vaccine is proof they don’t work. The immune system can take a number of days or weeks to generate an immune response before protection from the virus begins.
The Covid vaccine will reduce the chances of suffering from the serious complications of Covid. No vaccine is 100% effective, so everyone should continue to take the recommended precautions to avoid infection.
MYTH: You don’t need a vaccination if you have already had Covid
Experts do not know how long protection lasts after infection, so it is best to get a vaccine People who catch Covid are likely to be protected for some months but further research is required. These individuals could still transmit the virus to others. The current advice is to wait 4 weeks after having Covid before having the vaccine.
- MYTH: If I decide not to take the vaccine, it does not affect others.
Your decisions don’t just impact you but affect everyone, especially the most vulnerable and sick. You are more likely to suffer long Covid and severe complications if you do not have the vaccine. This will add pressure on the health service and have an effect on people who are suffering from other illnesses. It will also impact on your close ones who have to care for you during this period.
- MYTH: I am young and low risk so the Covid vaccine isn’t for me.
Although the risk is higher with age and comorbidities, Covid can cause long term complications and death. The vaccine is designed to reduce the risk of these disastrous consequences.
- Myth: Only the elderly and very sick are dying from COVID
The average age of someone in intensive care due to Covid is just over 60 years old. Common conditions such as diabetes and asthma, or even just being overweight, can significantly increase the risk of complications from Covid.
- MYTH: There are health professionals who object to the Covid vaccine.
The majority of health professionals, public health experts and scientists are promoting Covid vaccines.
Scientists from around the world have come together to develop safe Covid vaccines that will help to save thousands of lives.
As with any profession, there will be a fringe minority who disagree with the consensus views, the arguments a rarely based on evidence.
- MYTH: People are dying from Covid vaccines
Some people will die after having their vaccine, but this does not mean that it caused their death. If 10million people are vaccinated with no side effects, 14,000 can still be expected to die of completely unrelated causes.
- MYTH: Vaccines should be 100% safe before being released to the public
Vaccines are a safe way to prevent a number of preventable diseases, but no medication is 100% safe.
Vaccines are held to a higher standard than many other medications, but it is important to not create impossible goals for treatments. There are not many things is life that are 100% safe.