As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it has become increasingly clear that widespread vaccination is essential to contain it. Many community members are eager to get vaccinated, even as others are hesitant despite the assurances from the authorities and medical experts about vaccine’s safety.
While it may be natural to question if the brand new vaccines, developed at an unprecedented speed, are effective and safe, it must be noted that the overall effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines has been reported in the range of 70 per cent to 95 per cent, which is well above the average effectiveness of other vaccines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ensuring the safety and quality of vaccines is one of its highest priorities. ‘WHO works closely with national authorities to ensure that global norms and standards are developed and implemented to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines,’ it said.
The process of developing COVID-19 vaccines has been fast-tracked while maintaining the highest standards. According to the WHO, given the urgent need to stop the pandemic, pauses between steps, often needed to secure funding, have been shortened, or eliminated, and in some cases, steps are being carried out in parallel to accelerate the process, wherever it is safe to do so.
H E Dr Ahmed Mohammed al Sa’eedi, Minister of Health, informed last week that there are many reports disseminated socially of alleged side effects which are baseless and cannot be scientifically corroborated.
“Some countries began to register a downtrend in mortality and infections, as well as hospitalisation and admissions in intensive care units because of the vaccines,” he said.
“Do not trust social media rumours on vaccines. Vaccinations are better than treatment drugs because they prevent infections. Some people still do not trust the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and insist on the Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Neither of the vaccines has serious complications. The vaccines that are brought to Oman are thoroughly checked and have proved to be effective and safe.”
According to the WHO, COVID-19 vaccine developers have issued a joint pledge not to seek government approval for their vaccines until they’ve been proved to be safe and effective.
The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the pandemic will depend on several factors. These include the effectiveness of the vaccines; how quickly they are approved, manufactured and delivered; the development of variants; and how many people get vaccinated.
While trials have shown several COVID-19 vaccines to have high levels of efficacy, like all other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines will not be 100 per cent effective. WHO is working to help ensure that approved vaccines are as effective as possible, so they can have the greatest impact on the pandemic. Dr Salim Hamdan al Tamimi, senior paediatric consultant at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, noted that no serious side effects have been associated with any COVID-19 vaccine and that, when such cases occur, these are very rare.
MoH denies death related to COVID-19 vaccine
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has denied social media rumours about the death of a person due to COVID-19 vaccine.
The ministry confirmed that no side effects were recorded in the national campaign for immunisation against COVID-9. The ministry has urged all to pay no heed to rumours, and to obtain information from official sources only, stressing that it will take legal action against rumour-mongers.