Vaccine Tales Part 1 of many

Questions are being posed by all and sundry, about this vaccine for COVID 19. The WhatsApp intelligentsia are at it hammer and tongs. There is a degree of vaccine envy and a frisson of anticipation for those who will become eligible soon (when, is the vexatious question). Apparently the vaccine will not have any effect, if a selfie is not taken while getting vaccinated. A whole new fashion paradigm has come into being, of off shoulder clothing to pose for that mandatory selfie.

Amongst the many gems of wisdom floating around the social media circus, one analogy in response to the oft answered question on vaccine effectiveness struck me as very apt to be shared with due tweaking. The author of the original post is unknown (though maybe with the new Privacy settings on Whatsapp, Facebook knows!).

My recommendation at this juncture on 27 Jan 2021, when vaccines (from different manufacturers) have barely begun to make a dent on the 7 billion plus world population. It might take many years before we even achieve any kind of reasonable coverage . Till then, the best approach is a risk stratified approach to prioritise people in the public health system, while making it commercially available to cater for those who can afford to purchase whatever protection that may be afforded. However, governmental prudence is being exercised in balancing the two requirements at present.

Those who drive cars, wear seatbelts (or at least should irrespective of whether it is compulsory or not, depending on laws of the Land – For info, in India it is compulsory for those in the front seats to wear seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. ) And those who drive two wheelers surely will appreciate the fact that a proper helmet , worn properly with the strap fastened under the chin, will save their lives by minimizing the effect of head injuries.

So now, a properly worn seatbelt in a car and a properly worn helmet for a two wheeler driver, does it afford protection ? A no brainer surely…. the answer has to be Yes .
Just like the COVID vaccineit does afford some protection (going by clinical trials). How much protection, or for how long? To answer that we will have to travel ahead a few years in time to be certain of the answer.

Do seat belts for cars and helmets for two wheelers protect you 100%? –
No they dont protect 100%.
Just like the COVID vaccinePossibly, it would afford some protection (going by clinical trials). How much protection, or for how long? To answer that we will have to travel ahead a few years in time to be certain of the answer.

Do seat belts for cars and helmets for two wheelers prevent you from getting into an accident?
No they dont!
Just like the COVID vaccineit most likely would not prevent you from getting infected by some variant of the virus (going by current knowledge, though we would all like it to prevent infection totally). So what would the vaccine do for you? The body’s immune response would be stimulated and it is hoped that either your infection would be tackled up front and dealt with, or you would develop a milder disease than if you were unvaccinated.

If at all we have an accident while driving a car or a two wheeler, does wearing a seat belt or a helmet reduce severity? –
Yes indeed! It makes sense surely!
Just like the COVID vaccine – If you were to be infected by the nCOV, it most likely would result in a milder disease than if you were unvaccinated.

Does wearing a seat belt or a helmet imply that you drive recklessly and unsafely?
No, absolutely not, unless you have a death wish.
Just like the COVID vaccineEven if you are vaccinated, you still would need to continue to practice COVID Appropriate Behaviour – i.e Wearing of Masks, Avoidance of Crowds, Close Contact and Closed Spaces , Physical distancing and Handwashing , till that point of time in the future when we can be reasonably certain that the threat of infection has diminished totally.

Your health and your safety is literally in your hands.

Wearing a helmet or putting on a seat belt , does it translate into not causing injury to others on the road ?
Obviously not! Pedestrians are mostly innocent victims in Road Traffic Accidents.
Just like the COVID vaccinewhile you might get a milder disease when infected with the virus in case you are vaccinated, however you can still infect others, and those not vaccinated are at risk from you!

When we wear seatbelts or helmets do we give a thought to the manufacturers profits (it is assumed that you will choose wisely when it comes to safeguarding your head- as you have only one) ?
Well, most of us may not think of this at all….,
Just like the COVID vaccinethose companies that have manufactured these, will undoubtedly profit from sales. However they have also invested their own money in doing so, and hence, if you can, you should buy into their company! There is no such thing as a free lunch in life. So why grudge them their billions. You could be the one who discovers the next big vaccine, in another life. For info, you cannot buy shares of Serum Institute as it is a privately held company.

So, are we happy that some company / agencies / persons invented seatbelts and helmets?
Absolutely. I and my family have been wearing seatbelts long before it even became compulsory in India. And having been in the military, we all are aware that helmets are compulsory for soldiers to save their heads from bullets, and from the road too.
Just like the COVID vaccineI am very happy and pleased that there are some very smart people working to develop vaccines ,not just for COVID19 but for all kinds of threats that humanity faces on a daily basis.

Do helmets and seatbelts themselves cause injuries?
Yes, seatbelt injuries do occur and helmets can be problematic especially if sub standard.
Just like the COVID vaccines, which can all have side effects, mostly mild, some serious.

Knowing all of the above, should we still wear helmets for two wheelers and seatbelts for cars, even if these were not legally enforced?
Yes, I would ! And I will !
Just like the COVID vaccine.

Someday, I would surely get a vaccine, you would not find me fighting to get in line to be in the front of the queue. But yes, eventually I will get the vaccine.
Just like wearing a seatbelt or a helmet, getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you can be a COVidiot , it just gives you some amount of protection.

So at the end of it all, it boils down to just how much of a risk taker you are!
Are you willing to take the risk of side effects for the x% chance of protection? How much do you see yourself as at risk of getting infected and developing serious disease? Which could be prevented or minimized by getting the vaccine?

Irrespective of your age, dont get perturbed. Go for it with your eyes wide open. Neither expect miracles nor give up hope. And continue to Mask and Distance and wash your hands off concern..


Published by Delta Zulu Consultancy

I am a Public Health Specialist with a passion for sustainable promotion of human co-existence with the environment! My areas of interest and expertise are Health Risk Communication and Community Engagement, Food Safety, Environmental Medicine and Mass Gathering Medicine. I believe in leveraging the power of technology to capture the imagination of people to inspire them to achieve their health potential, in a sustainable manner. I aspire to empower my partners and motivate stake holders to consistently seek 'work around' solutions, while hoping to achieve an utopian ideal balance.

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