Race for vaccine draws mixed reactions
Race for vaccine draws mixed reactions
By Irish Mae Silvestre
The Philippine Reporter
The urgency is palpable. With the official global death toll soaring at 814,000 as of August 25, countries are locked in a race to find a vaccine.
Early this month, the Canadian government announced that it has entered into an agreement with pharmaceutical companies to push the research forward: Pfizer will supply its BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate, while Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate.
“Given intense global competition, we are taking an aggressive approach to secure access to the most promising candidates so that we will be ready to vaccinate all Canadians as quickly as possible,” said Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, in a press release. “We are extremely pleased to establish these agreements with Pfizer and Moderna. Canadians can rest assured that the Government will continue to do everything possible to keep them healthy and safe.”
But even if the government is poised to have a vaccine for every Canadian – even purchasing 37 million syringes – public opinion about mass vaccinations is another more controversial matter.
Erring on the Side of Caution
Sasha Ortega, who runs Tala restaurant with her mother in downtown Toronto, said she’s glad the government’s providing the necessary financial support to aid research. However, she hopes they proceed with caution.
“We’ve seen so many movies, right? I think we need to take our time and not rush things,” she said. “We shouldn’t be putting so much pressure on a final product that may not work only to have a different and scarier situation.”
Cecilia Noon, owner of Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant, said that although she’s for vaccines, she has her reservations. “For me it takes time. I need time to see if it’s going to work and what the side effects are,” she said. “I don’t want to be the guinea pig for it.”
On the other hand, she believes that the elderly or those with underlying conditions should consider the vaccine.
But apart from the side effects, Lui Queano, a quality control lab tech, is wary of who exactly would benefit from this deal.
“[This partnership] doesn’t guarantee that it’ll end the pandemic,” he said. “What’s clear is simply that these pharmaceutical companies will rake in more profits amidst the COVID-19 crisis through billions of dollars that don’t at all assure the public that the pandemic is over.”
Making it Mandatory
Business owner Katrina Silverio has had experience with vaccines being mandatory having worked in nursing prior to running a martial arts school full-time with her husband. She recalls how flu shots were mandatory amongst staff, but others can opt out. However, those who get the flu don’t get paid sick time.
With antivaxxers and little information about side-effects, Silverio anticipates that COVID-19 vaccines will be a big issue in the future. “If the government forces everyone to get the vaccine and everyone starts having issues or if even one person has an allergic reaction, then everyone’s going to be highly against it and go back to locking themselves at home,” she said.
Noon said that she’s never had the flu shot and hopes that the government won’t make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory to travel outside Canada.
But for Vancouver-based program manager and behavior therapist, Joan Cauguiran, the vaccine is essential towards helping people return to their normal lives.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the development of vaccines as it would, to a certain extent, make me feel less anxious about activities such as traveling,” she said.
Similarly, Rosemarie Delos Santos, an HR and recruitment professional in Vancouver, is for vaccines. Having recently migrated from Dubai, UAE, where vaccines are mandatory Delos Santos said they always got flu shots and won’t hesitate to get her family vaccinated.
“A sick child is every parent’s worst nightmare,” she said. “My son has had the flu three times and it was really bad to the point where he had to be hospitalized. So if there’s a vaccine that will prevent or reduce the effects of the virus, I’d have myself and my kids get it.”
Ortega also agrees that it should be mandatory. “For those against vaccines, well, look at the world now without a vaccine for COVID-19,” she said. “People’s though at the end of the day is, ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’ Unfortunately, we share the same space so [what you do] affects me. Then what?”
While Queano said that he and his family would also certainly get the vaccine he’s concerned about the government becoming complacent in the battle against the disease.
“The development of the vaccine isn’t a one-time solution,” he cautioned. “The government shouldn’t daydream that all’s well just because the vaccine is in the offing.”