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You’ll feel a lot better about COVID-19 vaccines when you read this from Dr. Fauci

December 18th, 2020 at 9:31 AM
Coronavirus vaccine
  • White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci debunked a handful of myths related to the coronavirus vaccine in a new interview.
  • The myths Dr. Fauci debunked include the erroneous belief that people can contract COVID-19 from the coronavirus vaccine.
  • This comes as the US has just set more record highs for coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, as well as deaths from the virus.

By now, it’s getting to be an old story and causing news publishers to sound like something of a broken record. But here we are, again, ahead of an important FDA meeting on Thursday to discuss Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate — with an approval of Moderna’s request for an emergency use authorization expected to come on Friday — with the US also having just set another record day in all coronavirus-related metrics — including cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

On Wednesday, the US reported more than 247,000 new coronavirus infections, as well as more than 3,600 COVID deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Sadly, those are the highest single-day totals we’ve seen so far. Moreover, according to The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, a record 113,000 people in the US are hospitalized at the moment with coronavirus. All of which only reiterates how vital it is that the current rollout of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, which got underway earlier this week, continues to go smoothly, and the same for Moderna once its rollout begins. Meanwhile, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has given a new interview which saw him debunk some of the biggest coronavirus vaccine myths out there, and which should definitely make people feel better about taking the vaccine.

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During a question-and-answer session this week as part of CNBC’s Healthy Returns, Dr. Fauci endeavored to debunk some of the most persistent myths that linger about the coronavirus vaccine. Let’s just dive right in, taking a look at the four that Dr. Fauci shot down:

FALSE: The unprecedented speed with which the COVID vaccine was developed makes it less safe.

Normally, it takes a timetable on the order of years, from start to finish, for a new vaccine to be developed, manufactured, and distributed. The COVID vaccine, though, will have done so inside of a year, and from multiple drugmakers. Stresses Dr. Fauci, that’s just “a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances that have been made in platform technologies for vaccines” over the past ten years. Moreover, Dr. Fauci insisted that the speed of development “was not at the expense of safety, nor was it at the expense of scientific integrity.” Governments spent an “enormous amount of money” to get the vaccine developed, collapsing the normal development timetable into the span of a few months.

FALSE: You won’t need to wear a mask anymore once you’ve been vaccinated.

According to Dr. Fauci, don’t expect an end to public health measures like social distancing requirements and the need to wear a face mask outside of your home until somewhere between 70% to 80% of people develop COVID-19 immunity — something the vaccines will help bring about. It will take some time for that to develop throughout the wider population, though, which is why Dr. Fauci says that, for now, “You need to keep wearing masks and doing the fundamental public health measures, even after you’ve been vaccinated.”

FALSE: Since you’re injecting new genetic code into your body, the vaccine can affect your DNA.

Some people have apparently been worried about this, but Dr. Fauci says that it’s “absolutely not” possible. Vaccine recipients are “getting a snippet of RNA, which is coding for a protein,” Dr. Fauci explains. “It has nothing to do with your own genetic material. It gets injected. It gets into a cell, and it starts pumping out the spike protein that you want the body to make an immune response. It doesn’t integrate into any aspect of your own genetic material. It’s totally separate from your own genetic material.”

FALSE: It’s possible to get the coronavirus from the vaccine.

There’s a popular misconception some people have, Dr. Fauci explained, that you can get the flu from the flu vaccine, which leads people to also suspect that you can contract COVID from the coronavirus vaccine. While he acknowledged that some of the side effects of the vaccine are similar to what people experience with the virus itself, contracting the virus from the vaccine is “absolutely impossible.”

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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