Zero risk does not exist. In nothing. Before the pandemic, when the world population flew assiduously, they took planes even knowing that no one could assure them that they would land safely at their destination. Now, after a year dealing with the Covid-19 and already accusing pandemic fatigue, the latest CIS survey reveals that 40.5% of the population would be vaccinated immediately as soon as I could. This means that more than half would prefer to wait because they fear the adverse effects it may cause.
In the case of injection of Pfizer and BionTech, the most common adverse reactions in participants 16 years of age and older were “pain at the injection site (>80 %), fatigue (>60 %), headache (>50 %), myalgia and chills (> 30%), arthralgia (> 20%) y fever and swelling at the injection site (> 10%), and were generally of intensity mild or moderate and were resolved within a period of A few days later of vaccination “, as stated by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps) in its Datasheet.
“This is normal, means that the immune system is responding, it’s a good sign in fact and it happens with many other vaccines “, explains Adelaida Sarukhan, doctor in Immunology and scientific writer at the Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal), who remembers that zero risk does not exist in any area of life.
So far, after the administration of the first doses in Spain, the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, noted that no case of adverse effects has been reported.
“It is possible – and even expected – that some adverse effects that had not been observed (in the trials) will begin to be observed, but in the end it is about putting in a balance the risk and benefit of a vaccine: if the risk of getting sick or dying from Covid is much greater than the risk of being able to suffer a serious adverse effect, whose probability is very very low, no discussion“, zanja Sarukhan.
The dilemma of the elderly
The vaccine is being administered in the first place to those who have suffered the most from the effects of Covid: the elderly in residences. These people, due to their advanced age, have a greater probability of dying. This aspect, says the immunologist from ISGlobal, a center promoted by the “la Caixa” Foundation, led one of the experts from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (CAPI) lets vote against people over 80 being vaccinated.
“Being vaccinated and then dying can undermine confidence in vaccines”
“He argued that it was a risk because this sector of the population is already at an age when mortality is higher and the fact that they are vaccinated and then die can undermine trust in vaccines “, explains Sarukhan, who thinks that” it is a risk that must be assumed “and” it will have to be explained very well “.
And it is that not everything that happens after being vaccinated will be attributable to these and will have to be studied. In this sense, he gives an example: “The day after a person gets the vaccine, they can also fall down the stairs and we can’t say he broke his leg from the vaccine“.
No long-term adverse effects
His colleague, the professor of Health Sciences at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) Francesc Xavier Bosch, adds that “any negative effect on health that is suspected of being associated or caused by the vaccine must be communicated and investigated“, although he emphasizes that” for now we know that the vaccine has no severe side effects (in controlled studies with tens of thousands of people observed months after vaccination) “and remember that”vaccines generally have no long-term adverse effects“.
So, What will happen when vaccinated older people die? “It is a risk, we are trying to protect a population that is very vulnerable and whose health status is no longer ideal. The chance that older people will die after receiving the vaccine is high because older people are more likely to die, obviously. This will have to be explained very well “, explains the immunologist.
“Vaccines are not completely effective and there will be people who get sick despite being vaccinated”
The media now face a great accountability and disclosure challenge to make the population trust the vaccines against Covid. To do this, says Bosch, “we must maintain open communication between experts and the media and explain again and again the importance of what we are gambling with this vaccination. If we jump on the news and draw conclusions we run the risk of underusing one of the main resources we have to control this pandemic“, he warns.
The doctor assures that “we do not expect any deaths that can be attributed to vaccination“Although that does not mean that there are no deaths after immunization against Covid. And this is what will have to be studied and communicated rigorously, the experts emphasize.
Phase 4, two more years of research
His colleague Sarukhan, points out that “surely there will be” deaths after vaccination and argues this: “Vaccines are not completely effective yy there will be people who get sick despite being vaccinated and it is not ruled out that I can die of Covid, although at the moment it has not been seen in the studies, but we cannot rule it out either. “
The adverse effects that are reported after the administration of the vaccines will be studied in the step 4. “After a vaccine is approved, its safety continues to be evaluated in phase 4. Pfizer is going to conduct a tracing to the more than 40,000 participants in his clinical trial over the next two years“adds the immunologist to underline that” it is watching a lot in the long term to assess whether or not the effects will have to do with vaccination. “