Diaspora Skeptical of COVID-19 Vaccines As Drug Companies Make Progress

In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

The end of November saw a third Pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca announcing that its COVID-19 vaccine trials were up to 90% effective.

The company joined Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna as the major companies which have completed vaccine trials and are now seeking FDA approval for the drug. The companies have said that clinical trials showed the vaccine is 95% effective.

Health officials in the United States say they believe that at least one of the vaccines could be administered as early as the end of December, giving hope to Americans who are now suffering from pandemic fatigue.

While the vaccine does present light at the end of the tunnel for not only Americans but all global citizens, getting the diaspora vaccinated will not be an easy task.

Jamaica’s minister of health and wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton recently noted the challenge that the ministry now faces because of the massive skepticism of Jamaicans.

“There are persons in Jamaica as I believe in the world who feel that vaccines are not safe, who feel that there are side effects that could be quite dangerous and I go to the very extreme, where persons argue that it’s a conspiracy theory to support particular interests, large multi-nationals and wealthy families,” said Tufton during a press briefing in November.

In America, a similar challenge exists for public health officials. Some members of the diaspora are looking forward to the drug, while others have already written it off.

“There’s no way in the world that anyone is gonna convince me to take this vaccine,” said John Dillenger, a New York resident, to CNW Network Correspondent Lena Inglis. “I’m paranoid when it comes to certain things like that. I wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t let my family do.”

“I feel like we don’t have enough testing on it,” shared another NY resident, Ally Joe. “There’s not enough research on it and we don’t know the side effects that it will have on people. I’m not excited about it,” she shared.

One resident, however, James David shared that he was looking forward to the vaccine because he has asthma and underlying conditions which make him among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. David says the vaccine would make him more comfortable in “going out without a mask.”

In the meantime, America’s top infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci predicts that 20 million American residents will be able to get vaccinated from the first batch of the drug. Among the first people that will be vaccinated are health care workers, nursing home residents and factory workers.

European regulators say they may approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech within four weeks, a time frame that could mean the shot is rolled out first in the United States and Britain.

As reported in The Associated Press, the European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine for it to be approved. The agency also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival vaccine shot by Moderna Inc.

Officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will take many months to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with virus control measures well into next year.

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