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Busting common misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines

The biggest misconception about coronavirus vaccine is that it will bring an end to the pandemic.

The progress in the development of COVID-19 vaccines is a ray of hope in the darkness. However, several myths and misconceptions are floating around related to the much-awaited vaccines. Here we have tried to debunk some of them.

Currently, 42 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in clinical trials and another 151 are in pre-clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Two or three of these vaccines are most likely to hit the market by end of this year. U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told a leading news channel on Sunday that there would be clarity on whether a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective by early December. However, he said widespread vaccination would not be likely until the second or third quarter of 2021. Earlier this month, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan also announced that India will have more than one COVID-19 vaccine against the deadly coronavirus by early next year and that work on formulating a distribution plan has already begun. In the meantime, several myths and misconceptions are floating around related to the coronavirus vaccines. Here we have attempted to debunk some of the most popular misconceptions about the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccines:

COVID-19 vaccine will bring an end to the pandemic

This is probably the biggest misconception about coronavirus vaccines. Most people believe that the pandemic will be gone when the vaccine arrives and everybody takes it.

Here's the reality: Although nobody knows exactly what the efficacy rate is going to be at this point, it is less likely that these vaccines are going to be 100% effective. And even if they are 70% effective, the rest 30% of the population may not be effectively immunized against the coronavirus. However, the vaccines will certainly help get past the current crisis mode.

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We can do away with the masks after the vaccine arrives

Wearing masks and practicing social distancing are the best ways to prevent contracting the virus as well as curb the spread of the disease. But there is this misconception among people that this won't be required once they get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Here's the reality: A lot of people might not like this but experts say that the new normal of wearing masks and practicing social distancing still need to be followed at least through much of next year. In addition, the need for antiviral medication, such as remdesivir, may not go away as soon as we get a vaccine.

Indians may not really need a COVID-19vaccine

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were claims that Indians have better immunity and hence cases would be low in the country. The ever-growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country has put this theory to rest. Now, as the country is witnessing a high recovery rate and the death rate has drop, another dubious theory has emerged. It is that Indians may not really need a COVID-19 vaccine.

Here's the reality: COVID-19 may be less severe in India as compared to some parts of the world, but it is still fatal. So, Indians need a vaccine against the virus as much as every other person in the world. Studies have shown that asymptomatic and people with mild symptoms are spreading the infection. Additionally, the virus can lead to long-term effects on people who have recovered from the disease. Thus, it is important to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The vaccine can give you COVID-19

This myth perhaps is going to be the biggest hurdle in mass vaccination against coronavirus. Many people are concerned that getting the vaccine could make them sick with COVID-19.

The truth is that a vaccine is actually made of either a weakened or inactivated whole virus, or a part of the virus that have been attenuated so as not to cause illness. When a vaccine is designed, it is first tested in lab-grown cells, followed by laboratory animals and then in humans. A vaccine is approved for human use only after testing its safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy in the pre-clinical and clinical trials. However, there is a likelihood of minor side-effects with every vaccine.

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