Public health consultant debunks covid vaccine myths

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Dr Tanya Melillo, consultant on public health has said that experts are predicting a third wave of the pandemic. It is estimated that this will hit Europe after Christmas. Speaking to Fr Joe Borg on Newsbook Q&A, Melillo said that this wave will be the consequence of two main factors: the predicted relaxation of social distancing over the Christmas period and the intensified cold spells which follow the festive season. Dr Melillo said that this will mean an increase in persons needing to be hospitalised. A lot will depend on how sensible people will be over the Christmas cheer.

Keep to your family bubble

Reports have been circulating that Gozo has registered almost full occupancy in farmhouses for private gatherings, a concern which was also highlighted by the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium sized Enterprises. Dr Melillo said that the home bubble may safely go to Gozo but family bubbles should not mix and if they do, the virus will spread especially if then, the family members go to other parties. Dr Melillo said that such party-hopping is extremely irresponsible and will definitely lead to higher incidence of the virus and consequently hospitalisation.

First in line for the vaccine

Dr Melillo said that the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel which will give the people enough antibodies to fight the virus. She said that this is the same as all other vaccines such as influenza, TB, MMR etc which will help a body fight against al these viral ‘attacks’. Dr Melillo scuppered all talk of the vaccine not being safe. She said that there are so many checks to the issue of a new drug that al this talk that the vaccine is not safe is nonsense. All studies said Dr Melillo show that the vaccine is safe and the WHO would not permit its circulation otherwise. “I will be one of the first in line to take the vaccine and my family will be lined up behind me,” said Dr Melillo when challenged if she was going to take the vaccine. She added that this is the same for the influenza vaccine as this is one of the tools of public health which has historically proved to be effective against a virus.

But the vaccine will not mean that all will be shiny and bright after the vaccine.

Return to normality by summer

Dr Melillo said that the vaccine will take time to be diffused among the populations of Europe as the production rates will mean that the consignments need to be distributed. Herd immunity achieved through the vaccine will only be operative when 80% of the population will have had the vaccine. That, she said, would mean that the herd immunity will be reached around April, if people use their heads and take the vaccine. Dr Melillo said that the vaccine will be given in 2 shots. One cannot say that s/he is immune after the first shot and all precautions need to remain in place until the second shot has been taken.

“If you really love your family, take care of your loved ones and distance so that by summer we can enjoy summer as we used to before the pandemic,” concluded Dr Melillo.