Ghana: Poor Education Causing Panic on COVID-19 Vaccines-Immunologist

By Ahedor Jessica

Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF
Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF

Ghana will from first week in March 2021 start vaccinating its populace with the two different types of COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the country. Prior to the arrival of the vaccines on 24th February 2021 there were mixed reactions as a result of the many conflicting theories about the vaccine. While many of the citizenry are of the view that the vaccines among other theories targets depopulating blacks, experts are calling for the right information to forestall public confidence in the process.

Immunologist, Dr Bernard Amoani at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana asserts in winning public trust to achieved the desired result for this immunization, Government must use the right people to channel the appropriate information on the vaccines for a smooth take-off and a successful roll-out.

According to him, the available vaccines – COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines saw its preliminary data on the impact in Scotland reducing the risk of hospitalization substantially as such, this shows real promise that the vaccines could protect the citizenry from the severe effects of COVID-19.

“Findings from the first study to assess the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on prevention of severe illness in communities reveals four weeks after administration of a first dose, the risk of hospitalization was reduced by up to 85% by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and up to 94% by the Astra Zeneca vaccine”.

But Ghana has more than 3 variants of the covid-19 strains, hence the growing concerns about which type of the variants are the two available vaccines targeting to provide immunity for.   

Prof. Alfred Yawson, Head of Community Health Department, University of Ghana Medical School explains the UK variants is predominant in Ghana hence the Astra Zeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines works perfectly for Ghana as well.

“We have carried out tests and we realized the UK variant is the dominant one in Ghana so the vaccines they use also fit well for us”.   

Available literature on the benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all other vaccines, reveals those vaccinated gains protection without ever having to risk the consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines instruct the cells to make a harmless piece of spike protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

These vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cell uses them to make the protein piece (spike proteins). After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. Thus, they are no longer in the body to cause any harm as it is being speculated. The body cells display the protein piece on its surface and the immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin to build an immune response and make antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. At the end of the process, the body has learned how to protect against future infection. Experts say any temporary discomfort experienced after getting the vaccine is a natural part of the process and an indication that the vaccine is efficacious.

However, vaccines are not like antimalarial drugs that start their work immediately after one has taken it. It takes time for the body immune system (cells) to produce immunity that can fight and defend one from getting the COVID-19 virus. Thus, it is prudent for the public to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols even after one has taken the vaccine for some time until the body produces immunity.

If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has implored every Ghanaian to avail themselves for the vaccination against the coronavirus, emphasizing the only way to reduce the rate of infection is to vaccinate.

The Health Minister Reiterated Ghana’s success on previous vaccinations as the country continues to use that as a spring board.

“Luckily, in Ghana, we have success stories to tell with vaccines in children. Measles, polio, tetanus, we have used vaccines to try to prevent our kids from getting them. So now, vaccines shouldn’t be a new thing for us. The only new thing we are going to add on to the battle that we have fought since last year is the vaccines. If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down,” he said.

Meanwhile the health ministry would deploy a total of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds vaccinations campaign.

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