Editorial: TO V OR NOT TO V
The following Editorial is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent those of Hunters Bay Radio:
Next week, long-term care workers in Toronto and Ottawa will be receiving their first doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine, and lots of folks are seeing this as the beginning of the end of this pandemic. While a vaccine is a vital step toward eradicating this virus, I'm not so sure about this particular vaccine.
This is a new type of vaccine which uses mRNA technology. All of the vaccines we've known up 'til now inject weakened or inactivated virus to trigger an immune response in our body. The idea behind mRNA vaccines is to inject part of the coronavirus' genetic code into our own cells to stimulate the body to make a protein itself that will trigger an immune response. Instead of an expensive 6-year process to produce the protein, mRNA can be produced much more cheaply and rapidly, which is why it has been used for the COVID-19 vaccine.
While there hasn't been anything like this on the market anywhere in the world, mRNA vaccines are not unheard of. Over the years they've been tested on humans for different cancers and for rabies, but have never been approved for use. And in a paper outlining the early results of an mRNA rabies vaccine, it was noted that "...the side effects were not trivial."
We are only just beginning to learn about how cells cope with RNA alteration. Some evidence suggests that changes to the chemical
composition of RNA can have a role in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. While this may be an acceptable risk for those with cancer or rabies (which is always fatal), I wonder if it is for COVID-19, given the high rate of mild and asymptomatic infections.
And I find it interesting that our Prime Minister announced Thursday that anyone who experiences a severe adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible for compensation through a no-fault national vaccine injury compensation program. This is a first in Canada’s history.
This is not to dissuade anyone from being vaccinated against COVID-19. This is to raise awareness that this is an mRNA vaccine so that folks can make an informed decision about being vaccinated. While proponents claim that there is "no risk of incorporation into host chromosomes" and that "levels of mRNA and protein will decline and clear" once they've done their job, the truth is, experts really don't know if that's the case. We don't know anything for sure with mRNA technology, which is why it's never been on the market anywhere in the world.
I'm sure scientists will be eagerly watching the results from a world full of guinea pigs ... us.
By Ruby Truax
Note: the writer is not a medical professional and has no background in medicine.