Regarding the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines

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By David Ibeleme, MD, MBBS; PG-Dip; MSc.; MPH

There have been a lot of reports of vaccine adverse affects on several platforms across the globe. This post serves to put some of the things into perspective based on what we know from the science regarding the COVID-19 vaccines at this time.

Before, I share my perspective I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the families of everyone who is reported to have passed as a result receiving any of the WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines.

I trust the Lord to comfort and strengthen them as they go through this season of bereavement.

It's always a sad time when anyone has an adverse reaction to a medication (in this case a vaccine) that is meant to make them feel better. It creates a sense of low confidence in the medical interventions and institutions and most certainly increases vaccine hesitancy.

For us as doctors and medical personnel who have taken an oath "to do no harm", it's always a major concern. We therefore always feel it for the individual(s) and their family, and our best wishes go to them for speedy recovery and in the case of fatalities our sincerest condolences are extended to their families.

There are currently over two hundred and thirty one million (>231M) recorded Covid-19 cases globally accounting for over four million seven hundred and thirty five thousand (>4.735M) deaths globally. Adding vaccine related adverse effects does not help the situation for us at all.

However, we must also note that everyone who takes a vaccine knows (or ought to be informed before the shot) that side effects generally ALWAYS follow.

These side effects are usually non-life threatening for the most parts and also indicate that the immune system is responding very well to the vaccine.

It must also be noted that every individual reacts differently to vaccines and even to medications generally (I have a cousin that developed a near fatal adverse reaction to Ibuprofen or Motrin).

My wife and I have had our vaccines (AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine) already and we are doing well, along with a host of our friends and colleagues who have also had their vaccines.

Here in Trinidad and Tobago where I live, about 500,000 people have already had COVID19 vaccines and a phenomenally significant majority are doing very well. We have no officially confirmed vaccine related deaths to date and have less than ten (10) reported major adverse reactions, and these have all been resolved.

With respect to clotting issues in relation to the COVID19 vaccines; note that Clotting issues are way more common in the general population and in people who have had the COVID19 infection, than in people who have had the vaccine. That's the irrefutable fact.

Hence, the fact that one person develops (or some people develop) clotting, following vaccination should never negate the benefits of vaccines. Benefits that have been evident and undisputed for over two hundred (200) years.

Indeed the benefits of vaccines have been proven over the years COVID19 or no COVID19. Hence, the advent of COVID-19 should not change that. This is why most, if not all of us have been vaccinated against diseases like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, pertussis, yellow fever, hepatitis, HPV, etc.

We can all testify that countless numbers of deaths have been prevented through the use of vaccines. Vaccination remains the major tool in the fight against infectious diseases.

I am a polio survivor, however, I have been left with permanent paralysis in my right lower limb because I was not vaccinated on time, against the polio virus.

Vaccines are manufactured under strict protocols to ensure safety and efficacy, and the current COVID19 vaccines approved by the WHO have definitely gone through these rigorous measures. This is also why they are given emergency use authorization before full authorization. The emergency use authorization is to help protect the most vulnerable in a pandemic and also in determining how the vaccines perform in the general population. Emergency use authorizations are not just for vaccines but for medications in general and even for laboratory tests. Medications are often pulled or recalled and not granted full authorization if or when they are found to cause significantly adverse effects while they have emergency use authorization.

Some people have stated that these COVID-19 vaccines are not the same as the original vaccines we have been taking for years. Please permit me to clarify that a bit. Of the over twenty (20) Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved by at least one WHO recognized authority; there are only two (2) mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Modena, these are the newest technology vaccines); nine (9) killed inactivated vaccines which include Sinopharm, Sinovac, Coronavac and Covaxin (these have the same technology for injectable polio, rabies, hepatitis A and influenza); five (5) viral vector vaccines which include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V and Convidecia; four (4) protein subunit vaccines which are Abdala (from Cuba), Epivac-corona, RBD Dimer and Zivifax, one (1) conjugated vaccine, Soberana from Iran.

The technology for these vaccines have been with us for decades; mRNA for about thirty (30) years, conjugate and protein subunits for over forty (40) years, viral vector vaccines for about fifty (50) years and killed inactivated vaccines for over seventy (70) years.

To date over six (6) billion doses of COVID19 vaccines have been administered across two hundred and seventeen (217) countries globally. So far, over two and half billion (>2.5B) which accounts for over thirty three percent (33.2%) of the global population. It must also be noted that a very significant number of those vaccinated are doing very well and have significantly been protected against severe illness.

I must also indicate that correlation is not necessarily causation.

Hence, some reported fatalities following vaccinations have been clarified following autopsies as not being due to the vaccines, but due to some underlying condition that the deceased had which might not have been apparent to them or their relatives.

I encourage people who have had adverse effects and relatives of people who have died following vaccination to report them quickly and consistently to the relevant authorities. This will ensure that it can be properly investigated and also aid in the knowledge that we are acquiring regarding the vaccines. Remember that if it is not officially reported, then it cannot be officially confirmed and recorded.

Once again our sincere condolences go out to families whose relatives have had fatal adverse effects secondary to vaccine administrations or to any medications.

Let us continue to follow the recommended public health protocols and stay safe as we continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.