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Q&A about Covid Vaccine

March 29th, 2021

 

 

Is the COVID vaccine mandatory?

No – you can choose whether or not you wish to have a COVID vaccine, and you can also decide when you want to have it.

 

If you choose not to have a COVID-19 vaccine, your eligibility for Government payments won’t be affected. It is unclear if some workplaces will require vaccination, e.g. to work in a quarantine hotel;  Legal experts say an employer’s right to impose a vaccine policy comes down to workplace health and safety. Watch this space.

 

Can I choose which COVID vaccine to have?

No. There is currently no option to choose, due to the way the government has bought the vaccines and the very short supplies of vaccines around the world.

 

Can I pay extra to have the vaccine earlier so I can get back to work overseas?

No.  All the vaccine we have in Australia are government-purchased, so there are no COVID vaccines on the private market at the moment.

 

COVID vaccine was developed in a year – Should I be concerned that safety shortcuts were taken?

There were no safety shortcuts.  The reason the vaccines were developed so quickly is that the other aspects were accelerated: eye-watering amounts of money were spent; hundreds if not thousands of scientists worked on the problem;  COVID is everywhere; the vaccine duration of effectiveness is being tracked in phase 4; and the paperwork was undertaken much faster.

  1. Lots of cash (24 billion dollars in fact [i]) Governments took the risk instead of drug companies. Factories were built, and vaccines were manufactured even before anyone even knew if they worked. ( This has never happened before.) COVID vaccine trials were combined: phase 1 and 2 or phase 2 and 3. Usually, companies don’t do this because phase three and even phase 2 trials are extremely costly, and drug companies don’t want to spend the money in case it is all lost. Vaccine developers normally spend a lot of time justifying their expenses to shareholders etc. The governments threw money at the problem and took all the risks.
  2. The scientific might of the world was brought to bear on the problem – hundreds of teams stopped working on other things and worked on COVID vaccines instead.
  3. The size of the trials was pretty average for a vaccine trial. Generally it is quite slow to find people to join trials but all the publicity about COVID-19 meant many persons came forward to the join the trials so the trials were enrolled faster.  Also the number of cases of COVID in the community made it much faster to accumulate the cases needed to compare those who were vaccinated and those who were not. The world is on fire with COVID, so cases are everywhere. For example, in the Pfizer trial, they were able to analyse numbers once participants had reached  170 infections in the trial – this is peanuts when there were thousands of cases a day across the USA.
  4. Typically drug companies need to show how long a vaccine lasts before it can be registered. For the COVID vaccines, the duration of effectiveness of vaccines is the main thing that is missing from the regulatory data. Usually, companies accumulate 2 to 5 years of data to document how long their vaccine lasts. In a pandemic, there is no time for this. When people are dying in large numbers and hospitals are being overrun, it is enough to know the vaccine is safe and it works. The goal is to stop people from dying right now. All the current COVID vaccines prevent people from dying or being hospitalised with COVID.  It is better to determine in Phase 4 if the vaccine will be effective for one year, or two years, or even more.
  5. Note that no vaccine has ever caused a side effect to develop after six weeks from the date of vaccination – there are, of course, side effects that last a long time, but they always show themselves within six weeks, so trials used eight weeks of safety data. The super rare side effects ( those that happen, for example, in 1 per million persons vaccinated) would not show in a phase 3   It is only in phase 4 ( post-marketing) these super rare things reveal themselves. That’s why the world has not stopped looking for side effects even after  200 million doses of COVID vaccines have been given[ii]
  6. Bureaucracy was shortened – there is nothing like a pandemic to focus attention and get a file to the top of the in-tray to get assessed.

Dr Fauci on why vaccines seemed to have been developed ‘ so fast ‘ 

[i]https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/fda-adviser-covid-19-vaccine-could-provide-a-way-out-of-this-mess-2206948/

[ii]https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations?country=~OWID_WRL

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