Are there anti-vaxxers among us?

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“Reluctance to vaccinate has since caused a number of measles outbreaks in developed countries

THE scientific community worldwide is scourging all nooks and cranny to find the final solution to Covid-19 that killed thousands of people daily, and counting, and maiming millions more.

The president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina on April 20 launched an herbal medicine believed to cure and prevent the virus.  A published report from Premium Times says “The herbal medicine developed by Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and branded “Covid-Organics,” contains Artemisia—a plant on the island used in the fight against malaria.”

President Rajoelina said, “all trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms has been proven for the treatment of patients of Covid-19 in Madagascar.” Due to the alleged effectiveness of Covid-Organic, the president decreed that returning school children be given a mandatory dose prior to the resumption of classes. He also said two cures have already been attributed to the herbal vaccine.

Many other research institutions and medical groups have joined the race to produce a vaccine for the novel virus after the World Health Organization had raised it as a pandemic emergency in February. Some are using existing old medicines intended for other diseases while others are making new ones using all available technological knowledge and expertise they can get their hands on.

Even President Rodrigo R. Duterte raised his early prize pot from Php 10-million to Php 50-million for individuals or groups who could manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19 as soon as possible.  For him, the only way to beat the virus is to find an appropriate vaccine. “Sa akin, Covid-19 = vaccine, period,” the president said in his earlier public address on the pandemic.

And there are plenty of contenders in the Philippines vying for the bounty, fame and great service to humanity.  One prospect is that of brothers Drs. Willy and Ruben Fabunan of San Marcelino, Zambales whose invention Fabunan Anti-Viral Injection for the cure of dengue, pneumonia, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the precursor of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), is under close scrutiny by the Food and Drugs Administration

But don’t you know there are people who are called “anti-vaxxers” who defy vaccination and contest its effectiveness even if the scientific world has proven it time and again?  Unfortunately, you can’t find the word “anti-vaxxer” yet in any dictionary or in medical journals. 

It is a term primarily used to describe a person or a group of people who, for any apparent reason, refuse and contest the use of vaccines for the prevention or cure of human illness.  But can the extent of the contamination of millions and deaths of nearly 200,000 word wide from Covid-19 change their mind?

A report by CGTN in the net says, “anti-vaxxers have made headlines in the past for their opposition to vaccination against diseases like measles.”  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines prevent two to three million deaths per year.  Among the most prolific killers so far that have been eradicated or reduced by vaccines are smallpox, polio, diphtheria, Hepatitis B, rubella, measles, and pneumococcal disease.

But WHO further said that vaccination hesitancy by anti-vaxxers is one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019 because they refuse or delay vaccinations despite the availability of vaccines.  It says “proper coverage against preventable diseases only works as long as the majority of the population has been inoculated.” 

Reluctance to vaccinate has since caused a number of measles outbreaks in developed countries. A US Study by the Health Testing Centers saw a drop in overall vaccination rates from 2009 to 2018, with 26 states below the 95 percent target for measles and polio.

Only 59 percent of the people in Eastern Europe, which include the Covid-19 badly-hit countries of Italy and Spain, trust the safety of vaccination according to a survey in 2019 by Wellcome Trust.  Only about 72 percent of the people in North America believe that vaccine is safe in contrast with the almost universal trust of people in third world countries like Rwanda and Bangladesh, said the survey report.

But not only ordinary people who may not have access to the right information of the vaccine are anti-vaxxers. Some prominent figures are sticking to sticking to their beliefs. Last week, Novak Djokovic, world’s number one tennis player, hit the headlines after coming out against vaccination in order to start tennis tournaments.  He said in an internet chat, “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I would not want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

Are you one of them? Keep safe, stay at home. If ever a proven vaccine or a cure is available, let’s grab it.

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