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Tanzania banks on herbal remedy to fight coronavirus

Source: AA
Photos Source: AA
Locals relying on steam therapy infused with herbs, fruit to quash deadly virus

Kizito Makoye   |10.02.2021Tanzania banks on herbal remedy to fight coronavirus

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania

As hot steam mistily wafts from a pan, Tumaini Lucas briskly stirs a mix of herbs with a pointed cooking stick.

Soon she creates a tent above her head using a wet towel to let a torrent of vapors bounce on her face.

The 41-year-old entrepreneur, who lives in the Mabwepande area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, is one of many in the bustling city who have embraced alternative remedies, including steam therapy, to fight infectious diseases such as the coronavirus.

“Steam therapy is the best way to flush off viral infections. It makes you feel good and fresh,” she said.


Lucas, who is originally from Tanzania’s northern Kilimanjaro region, said her family has always used culinary herbs to treat diseases, eliminate viral infections and keep germs at bay.

“My granny never went to the hospital when she got sick. She simply disappeared into the forest to pick some herbs, boil them and steam herself for half an hour to get the badly needed relief,” Lucas told Anadolu Agency.

As part of efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the Tanzanian government has shunned conventional medicines and is instead touting the use of traditional remedies, including steam inhalation to fight respiratory infections.

The East African country recorded 509 coronavirus infections and 21 deaths last May when authorities halted its testing policy. The move came after President John Magufuli cast doubt on the efficacy of Chinese-made testing kits, which he claimed returned positive results on samples taken on a goat and pawpaw fruit.


No more testing

Magufuli’s decision to stop testing, however, was widely criticized globally by public health experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Centre for Infectious Diseases Control, which accused the president of promoting wild conspiracy theories with no scientific basis.

Steam therapy, which entails a concoction of herbs infused with ginger, lemon and neem, among other ingredients, is widely promoted and used in Tanzania as an alternative remedy to fight the highly contagious virus.

As nations worldwide bank on vaccines to fight the deadly virus that has killed more than 2 million people, Tanzania has shunned conventional medicines, and promoted traditional remedies, thus sparking debate about the effectiveness and safety of those remedies.

Magufuli, who is known for his hard-line pan-Africanist stance, provoked criticism when he branded foreign made vaccines “dangerous” while urging Tanzanians to use natural remedies, including steam inhalation.

He has largely eschewed mask-wearing and social distancing and claimed that God eliminated coronavirus in Tanzania, only to be accused by public health experts for contradicting global scientific consensus on best approaches to treat the virus.

Source: AA
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False sense of security

But the move to shun conventional medicine has raised the hackles of local and international experts, who believe steam therapy may give a false sense of security to those who are likely to blindly follow instructions from their leaders.

Local experts debunked Magufuli’s bizarre theory, saying it could probably do more harm than good.

“Steam inhalation has undoubtedly been used as a home remedy to treat common colds and upper respiratory tract infections. The assumption that it can treat coronavirus is flawed and simply ridiculous,” said Kitapondya Deus, a public health specialist based in Dar es Salaam.

He said steam inhalation should be only a home remedy and not be used conventionally in hospitals.

Richard Walker, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Newcastle in the UK concurs with Kitapondya’s assertions. “Herbal remedies pose many risks, the mixture can be toxic or contaminated, thus interact with prescription drugs,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Power of neem

Not everyone agrees. Lucas, who has developed a deep faith in the healing power of traditional herbs and their ability to dispel conditions such as wheezing and respiratory distress in the elderly, believes there must be a consensus on the use of conventional medicines and traditional herbs.

“I strongly believe in the power of traditional herbs. They shouldn’t be used sparingly, instead they must be adopted as an important part of a treatment plan, along with conventional medicines,” she said.

Neem, known colloquially as Mwarobaini in Swahili and lemongrass, or Mchaichai, is known for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can be the best treatment for the coronavirus, according to Lucas.

She said a steam bath infused with lemongrass has the potential to stimulate the circulatory system thus encourage blood flow into the brain to get rid of any headache.

“Lemongrass works so wonderfully to me, it soothes my throat, clears my nose and protects me against any virus,” she said.

To improve the flavor of herbs in the mix, Lucas squeezes lemons and chops fresh ginger while gently tossing them into a boiling pan.

Lemon and ginger have strong antiviral properties that can sweat out a fever and kill the coronavirus, said Lucas.

“I honestly don’t understand why everyone cast doubt on the effectiveness of traditional herbs in treating modern day diseases like coronavirus. We must trust our indigenous knowledge of things,” she said.


Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

Where did the concept come from that drugs or chemicals are the primary source for healing? Alternative and non-western cures have been around for sometime. Indeed even in the west people seek alternative healings or medicine. Will you take the vaccine? If not how will you address COVID 19 and the pandemic?

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Too Many Americans Still Mistrust the COVID-19 Vaccines. Here’s Why

Here’s What’s Behind Americans’ Uneasy Relationship With Vaccines
BY JEFFREY KLUGER  JANUARY 5, 2021 9:36 AM EST
Source: Time

If you’re feeling impatient waiting your turn for a COVID-19 vaccine, here’s a little good news: Angela Padgett will gladly give you her place in line—at least for now. Padgett, president of a day spa in Raleigh, N.C., is under no illusions about the mortal danger the pandemic poses to herself, her family and the world writ large—indeed, she had COVID-19 back in July. But as for the vaccine that is supposed to put an end to all of the suffering at last? Not today.

“I am a little bit hesitant,” she says. “I can appreciate President Trump trying to get this moving fast and I’ve taken pretty much every vaccine [for other diseases]. But I think it was rushed through very early, very quickly. So I would like a little more data.”

Padgett is not alone. According to a December survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center, nearly 40% of Americans say they will definitely not or probably not get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. Gallup polls put the number at 37%. That’s bad news not just for the vaccine refusers themselves but for the public as a whole. Experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had previously concluded that achieving herd immunity—the point at which a population is sufficiently vaccinated that a spreading virus can’t find enough new hosts—would require anywhere from 60% to 70% of Americans to take the vaccines. But lately, he and others have been inching that number upward, now estimating that herd immunity could require as much as 85% vaccine coverage.

The holdouts have multiple reasons for their reluctance. There are, of course, the dead-enders in the anti-vax community, for whom no vaccine is safe or acceptable. There is, too, a faction peddling conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines in particular. As one falsely goes, the disease is caused by 5G cell towers, so a vaccine would be useless against it. (The rumor has been repeatedly debunked on Snopes.com and other sites.) Another spuriously claims the vaccines are a plot by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—or, alternately, Elon Musk—to inject microchips into Americans. That last one—debunked herehere and elsewhere—has gained enough traction in the fever-swamp corners of the Internet that it prompted a rare acknowledgment from Bill Gates himself. “It doesn’t help that there are false conspiracy theories about vaccines, including some that involve Melinda and me,” he wrote in a foundation letter he released on Dec. 22.

But most people in the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy camp are more rational, more measured—informed enough not to believe the crazy talk, but worried enough not to want to be at the head of the line for a new vaccine. “For first responders and for older people with underlying conditions it’s a godsend,” says Padgett. “But I do believe this was rushed. I’m reasonably healthy. Six months to a year just to get more data on it is what I’d need to be vaccinated.”


For all the urgency to get as many vaccines into as many arms as possible, the reluctance of such a large swath of the population to be among the early adopters is not completely without merit.

“I think it’s reasonable to be skeptical about anything you put into your body, including vaccines,” says Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and director of its Vaccine Education Center. Coming from Offit, a vocal proponent of universal vaccination and a particular boogeyman of the anti-vax camp, that carries particular weight. He goes further still, acknowledging that the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccines were developed can cause people special concern. “The average length of time it takes to make a vaccine is 15 to 20 years,” he says. “This vaccine was made in a year.”

Then too there is a question of effectiveness. Both of the vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S., one from Pfizer-BioNTech and one from Moderna, have what Offit calls “ridiculously high efficacy rates—in the 95% range for all [COVID-19] disease and for Moderna’s product 100% for severe disease.” But in the haste to get the vaccine to market, test subjects have been followed up for only two to three months, so it’s impossible to say with any authority how effective the vaccines will remain at six or nine or 12 months.

Finally there are the side effects. Anaphylaxis—or a severe allergic reaction—is possible with any vaccine, though medical protocols call for people who have received the shot to wait 15 minutes before they leave so that they can be treated if they do have a reaction. More troubling are spotty reports of Bell’s palsy—partial facial paralysis—following COVID-19 vaccinations. But those numbers are exceedingly small. One false Facebook posting purported to be from a nurse in Nashville who got the vaccine and suffered Bell’s palsy, but that too has been debunked, as repeated searches have turned up no nurse in the Tennessee health system under that name. All the same, it sparked outsized fear of a real but minimal risk.

“There were four cases of Bell’s palsy within a month or month and a half in the Pfizer trial out of 22,000 recipients,” Offit says. “So that works out to roughly eight per 10,000 per year.” Such a case count may be low, but it does exceed the average background rate of Bell’s palsy in the general population, which is 1.2 per 10,000 per year, Offit says. Other sources put the incidence as a somewhat higher 2.3 per 10,000.

Armed with numbers like that, however, humans are not always terribly good at calculating risk. On the one hand even an eight in 10,000 chance of contracting facial paralysis does sound scary; on the other hand, about one out every 1,000 American was killed by COVID-19 this past year. The mortal arithmetic here is easy to do—and argues strongly in favor of getting the shots.

So too does the way the vaccines were developed—which is actually not as rushed as the calendar would make it seem. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both use mRNA—or messenger RNA—to prompt the body to produce a coronavirus spike protein, which then triggers an immune response. That is a novel method for making a vaccine, but the basic research was by no means conducted within the last year.

“The technology for the vaccine has actually been in development for more than a decade,” says Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and a state senator in California. Pan has pushed hard over the years for laws mandating vaccines for children to attend school and, like Offit, has earned the animus of the anti-vax community for his efforts. He is just as big a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine—though he would not propose mandates until there are enough doses for everyone to get a shot—and tries to reassure doubters that no matter how soon they get the vaccine, there are a lot of people who went before them.

“I point out to people that when you get the vaccine you’re definitely not the first,” he says, “because there are tens of thousands of people who have been involved with clinical trials.” Health care workers who are already being vaccinated increase that number dramatically—some 2 million have gotten the shot in the U.S. as of this writing.


Offit’s and Pan’s reassurances will surely not assuage everyone, and here demographics play a role. As with so much else in the U.S., vaccines have become a political issue. The Gallup organization has been tracking vaccine attitudes by party since July and has found Democrats consistently more likely to get vaccinated than Independents or Republicans. In a poll taken at the end of November, 75% of Democrats said they would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 61% for Independents and 50% for Republicans. Age plays a role too, with willingness to be vaccinated generally tracking susceptibility to the disease. In the December Pew Research Center poll, for example, 75% of adults over 65 reported that they intended to be vaccinated, compared to just 55% under 30.

But nowhere is the difference starker than among racial and ethnic groups, with 83% of Asian-Americans surveyed expressing an intent to be vaccinated, compared to 63% in the Latinx community and 61% among Whites. In Black American respondents, the numbers fall off the table, with just 42% intending to be vaccinated.

This is of a piece with a long history of medical disenfranchisement and much worse. Some of the mistrust goes back as far as the infamous gynecological experiments J. Marion Sims conducted on enslaved women—without anesthetic—in the 19th century; as well the Tuskegee experiment that began in the 1930s and involved decades of studying the progress of syphilis in Black men without informing them that they had the disease or offering them the antibiotics needed to treat it. But the structural inequality and bias continues today.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the death rate from COVID-19 is 2.8 times higher for blacks than it is for whites and the hospitalization rate is 3.7 times higher. Dr. Ala Stanford, a Philadelphia-based pediatric surgeon and founder of the Black Doctors COVID Consortium sees a lot of reasons for that disparity, not least being that in the neighborhoods in which she works, Blacks and other minorities were being tested for COVID-19 at only one-sixth the rate of white communities, which tended to be higher-income, according to data from Drexel University. “[The tests] had to be scheduled from nine-to-five, when most people were at work,” Stanford says. “There were no evening or weekend hours [and] they weren’t accepting children.”

What’s more, Black Americans are disproportionately likely to be front-line or essential workers like home-health aides and are less likely to have the kinds of other jobs that would let them work from home. Less social distancing plus less testing means more sickness and death, which plays into the lived reality for many people that Black lives are valued less than white lives in the U.S. That, in turn, breeds more suspicions of the system as a whole—including of vaccines.

“The main fear I hear [about vaccines] is that someone is injecting coronavirus into my body,” says Stanford. “And I answer in as detailed a way as I can about the mRNA and the protein and how it looks like coronavirus but it’s not.” That kind of clarity, she says, can help a lot.

Offit hears even starker—and more poignant—fears from Blacks. “One particular man did not want to get the vaccine and I asked him why,” Offit says. “He said, ‘because for my race they make a different vaccine.’”

One way Stanford sought to push back against such suspicions was to offer up herself as a living example, getting vaccinated on camera through the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The local media sent a pool camera and the footage was shown on the evening news. Dr. Brittani James, a professor at the University of Illinois Hospital and executive director of the Institute of Anti-Racism in Medicine, did something similar, streaming her vaccination online.

“I talk until I’m blue in the face,” she says, “but there’s something I think for people to see me or see other Black people getting it that can really do a lot to soothe their fear. Like hey, guess what? If I’m wrong, I’m going down with you.”

Whether that kind of role-modeling and example-setting will work to reduce resistance is impossible to know at the moment, simply because vaccines are still unavailable to the overwhelming share of the population. If you can’t get the shot in the first place, it doesn’t matter how hesitant or receptive you are to it. Offit, who is white, does believe that efforts like James’s, to appeal to members of her own community, can be truly valuable.

“I think if someone like me says something, people are just going to see it as ‘Of course he’d say that,’” Offit says. He cites by way of example the effectiveness of TV ads by the National Medical Association, a professional organization of Black American physicians, showing one Black nurse inoculating another with the COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s subtle,” Offit says, “but they’re trying to create those images.”

Stanford believes Black churches can play a role too. During one of the testing drives she helped organize, church parking lots were used as sites to administer the tests—which helped increase turnout. “We know that in the African-American community, [the church] is a trusted institution,” she says. “Even if you don’t go to church, you know that’s a safe space.”Dr. Ala Stanford receiving her COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford's vaccination was televised in order to promote the safety and efficacy of the shot.Dr. Ala Stanford receiving her COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford’s vaccination was televised in order to promote the safety and efficacy of the shot. Emma Lee
Source: Time
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In all communities, it helps too if doctors and other authorities listen respectfully to public misgivings about vaccines, explaining and re-explaining the science as frequently and patiently as possible. But there is a burden on the vaccine doubters themselves to be open to the medical truth. “Questions are fine as long as you listen to the answers,” Pan says. “So talk to your doctor, go to sources like the CDC and our incredible mainstream medical organizations. Those are the ones you should be getting information from.”

Adds Stanford: “My belief is that you don’t coerce or convince, you listen to concerns and you understand the fears and are empathetic with people. Then you educate and allow one to make their own choice.”

Pan also sees a role for social media companies, which must better control misinformation on their platforms. Journalists too must step up, avoiding false equivalency or both-sides-ism; there is no need to give equal time to rumor mongers or conspiracy theorists simply to appear balanced.

Ultimately, no vaccine is perfect, and the COVID-19 vaccines do have more questions associated with them than others, because there hasn’t been that much follow-up time since the study volunteers got their shots. But those questions are less about safety than about just how long the shots will prove protective. The truth is that they work.

Another truth, of course, is that for now, in the early stages of the vaccine rollout, masking and social distancing remain the best methods for protecting ourselves and others—and they will be part of our lives for at least many months to come. But slowly, over time, the vaccines will eliminate that need. What’s required now is trust in the power of the shots or, as Stanford puts it, in “faith and facts over fear.” Pandemics eventually stop raging. It’s vaccines that hasten that end game—and save millions of lives in the process.

WRITE TO JEFFREY KLUGER AT JEFFREY.KLUGER@TIME.COM.

As the article states the average time to actually develop a vaccine or new drug is 15 – 20 years. This vaccine has be developed in under a year. Why do you think people are hesitant around the world to take the COVID 19 vaccine? How often have pharmaceutical companies been fined for the drugs they develop and why? How effective or ineffective has the FDA been in protecting the public at large from predatory drugs and drug epidemics? Why? Why not?

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‘I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but…’ US health workers’ vaccine hesitancy raises alarm

Coronavirus

With up to 40% of frontline workers in LA county refusing Covid-19 inoculation experts warn that understanding and persuasion are needed

Amanda Holpuch

Amanda Holpuch in New York @holpuch
Sun 10 Jan 2021 03.00 EST
Last modified on Sun 10 Jan 2021 10.07 EST
Source: The Guardian

Registered nurse Valerie Massaro administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to health care workers at the Hartford HealthCare at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on January 4, 2021.
 Registered nurse Valerie Massaro administers the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to health care workers at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, this week. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images
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Susan, a critical care nurse based in Alaska, has been exposed to Covid-19 multiple times and has watched scores of people die from the illness. But she did not want to get the vaccination when she learned it would soon be available.

“I am not an anti-vaxxer, I have every vaccine known to man, my flu shot, I always sign up right there, October 1, jab me,” said Susan, who didn’t want to give her last name for fear of retaliation. “But for this one, why do I have to be a guinea pig?”

The two authorized vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are safe according to leading expertsand clinical trials – for one thing they contain no live virus and so cannot give a person Covid – and with tens of thousands of patients, they have had about 95% efficacy. But across the country, health workers with the first access to the vaccine are turning it down.

Misinformation ‘superspreaders’: Covid vaccine falsehoods still thriving on Facebook and Instagram

The rates of refusal – up to 40% of frontline workers in Los Angeles county, 60% of care home workers in Ohio – have prompted concern and in some cases, shaming. But the ultimate failure could be dismissing these numbers at a critical moment in the US vaccination campaign.

Dr Whitney Robinson, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, told the Guardian if these early figures coming from healthcare workers are not addressed: “It could mean after all this work, after all this sacrifice, we could still be seeing outbreaks for years, not just 2021, maybe 2022, maybe 2023.”

Vaccine hesitancy is common – 29% of healthcare workers said they were vaccine-hesitant, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published last month. And it’s not exclusive to the US – up to 40% of care workers in the UK might refuse to have the vaccine, the National Care Association said in mid-December.

The numbers coming from hospital and care homes are unique in that they give a more specific picture of who is refusing the vaccine and why. Once vaccines are available to the general public, patterns will be more difficult to identify because the US does not have a centralized system to track vaccinations.

“If we don’t understand the patterns of who is not vaccinated, it will be hard to predict where outbreaks might spring from and how far they might spread,” Robinson said.

It will also leave underfunded public health agencies scrambling to identify and respond to hesitancy in the community.

“We can’t just write off somebody’s decisions and say, well that’s their personal decision,” Robinson said. “Because it’s not just their personal decision, it’s an infectious disease. As long as we have pockets of coronavirus anywhere in the world, until we have mass global vaccination, it’s a threat.”

Some employers and unions are seeing the numbers for what they are: an alarm in need of a response.

In New York City, the firefighters union found last month that 55% of 2,000 firefighter members surveyed said they would not get the vaccine.

But Covid cases are climbing at the FDNY. Twelve members have died and more than 600 were on medical leave in late December.

So, the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) president, Andrew Ansbro, collected questions from some of the roughly 8,200 firefighters his union represents. A virologist friend had been helping Ansbro shape the union’s response to Covid-19 and answered their questions in a recorded video. The 50-minute video has now been viewed about 2,000 times.

“I actually received a couple dozen phone calls and messages from members that said it changed their mind,” said Ansbro, who was vaccinated on 29 December. “I think the vaccination numbers are definitely going to be higher than 45%.”Advertisement

He said people were concerned about how new the vaccine was, had read misinformation online and were worried about long-term effects. In other workplace surveys, people have shared concerns about how it could affect fertility or pregnant women. Some healthcare workers infected with Covid don’t think it’s necessary while they still have antibodies.

Each of these questions can be answered. And national surveys have shown that in general, vaccine hesitancy is decreasing.

But these surveys also suggest action is still needed to address populations more likely to be distrustful because of the country’s history of medical abuse.

Recent surveys show that Black people are the most vaccine-hesitant. In mid-November, 83% of Asian Americans said they would get the vaccine if it was made available to them that day. That sentiment was shared by 63% of Hispanic people, 61% of white people but just 42% of Black people, according to a Pew Research report.

Dr Nikhila Juvvadi, the chief clinical officer at Loretto hospital in Chicago, told NPR that conversations with vaccine-hesitant staff revealed mistrust was an issue among African American and Latino workers.

She said people specifically mentioned the Tuskegee Study, when federal health officials allowed hundreds of Black men with sexually transmitted diseases to go untreated to study disease progression. The study lasted from 1932 to 1972.

“I’ve heard Tuskegee more times than I can count in the past month – and, you know, it’s a valid, valid concern,” Juvvadi said.

Juvvadi, who administered vaccines at the hospital, said one-on-one conversations validating these concerns and answering questions had helped people be more comfortable with the vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers has also put pressure on health systems intent on getting doses to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Georgia’s public health commissioner, Kathleen Toomey, announced last week that the state would expand vaccine access to adults 65 and older and first responders because healthcare workers were declining to take it.

Dr Toomey said that while hundreds of healthcare workers were on waiting lists to get the vaccine in the state’s urban center, Atlanta, in rural areas the vaccine was “literally sitting in freezers” because healthcare workers there did not want to take it.

At one of the Texas hospitals hardest hit by the virus, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in the Rio GrandeValley, workers contacted local EMTs, paramedics and medical workers from outside the hospital to distribute their remaining vaccines because of their limited shelf-life.

Susan, the nurse in Alaska, said her preference would be for her parents to get the vaccine first because they are more vulnerable.

She has made peace with the vaccine and plans to get it the next time it is offered. She said she was ultimately convinced to get it after speaking to other health professionals who did not dismiss her concerns and listened to her questions.

Now, however, there is another hurdle. Susan has declined the vaccine twice because of logistics. She is currently on a temporary crisis assignment in rural Texas and the travel meant both times she was offered the vaccine, she would be in a different state when it was time to take the second dose. Susan said: “I feel terrible I’ve said no.”

Why do you think medical professionals are hesitant to take the vaccine? Shouldn’t one lead by example? If they are unwilling to do it, why should you be willing? Will you take the COVID 19 vaccine?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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COVID-19 vaccine stirs rare hesitation in nearly virus-free Singapore

By Chen LinAradhana Aravindan
Source: Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – As Singapore prepares to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations its striking success in controlling the virus is making some question whether they should take the jabs.FILE PHOTO: The first shipment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine arrives in Singapore December 21, 2020. Betty Chua/Ministry of Communications and Informations via REUTERS

In a city-state where compliance with the authorities is generally high, some Singaporeans fear potential side effects – even if minimal – are not worth the risk when daily cases are almost zero and fatalities are among the world’s lowest.

“Singapore is doing pretty well,” said Aishwarya Kris, who is in her 40s and does not want a shot.

“I doubt the vaccine will help at all.”

A poll by local newspaper The Straits Times in early December found that 48% of respondents said they will get a vaccine when it is available and 34% will wait six to 12 months.

But the government is keen to open more of the economy with the help of the vaccine in a country dependent on travel and trade and preparing to host the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering next year.

“Singapore is a victim of its own success,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert at the city’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

To show the vaccine is safe, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 68, said he and his colleagues would be among the early recipients of the shots. They will be free, voluntary and given first to healthcare workers and the elderly.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived this week and Singapore expects to have enough vaccines for all 5.7 million people by the third quarter of 2021.

The first vaccines will be given to priority groups such as health workers in the next month or two, but it will be some time before its offered to the broader population, said Lawrence Wong, a minister who co-heads Singapore’s virus taskforce.

“The roll-out to the Singapore population will also take place over several months, depending on factors such as the supply and delivery schedules of the vaccines,” he said.

“RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO”

Many Singaporeans said they are ready to take the shots — not just to ward off infection but in hopes they can travel again. For others, it’s a civic duty.

“I am the one in the family that goes out daily to work, so it’s the responsible thing to do,” said Jeff Tan, a 39-year-old photographer.

Singapore acted swiftly after the first cases of the virus were reported and although it was blindsided by tens of thousands of cases in migrant workers dormitories, it has brought infections right down again.

Singaporeans are generally accepting of vaccines, with a near 90% uptake of major childhood jabs, said Hsu Li Yang at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at National University of Singapore.

But there is concern about a new vaccine that uses novel technology and has had a rapid development and approval. Typically, vaccine acceptance takes time, he said.

Even three nurses told Reuters under the condition of anonymity that they would prefer not to take the vaccine.

Singapore’s drug regulator said it granted approval after data submitted by Pfizer-BioNTech was assessed to demonstrate the vaccine meets the required safety, efficacy and quality standards, and that the benefits outweigh the known risks.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been linked with a few cases of severe allergic reactions as it has been rolled out in the UK and the United States. But it has not turned up any serious long-term side effects in clinical trials.

John Han, a sales manager, said he wanted to wait for 80% of the population to take the vaccine without side effects.

“If there is a choice given, I might not take it. I don’t mind to put on the mask, be safe, avoid crowded places,” said Han, 40.

Reporting by Chen Lin and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Michael Perry

Why do you think people across the world are hesitant to take the COVID vaccination? Have you taken the vaccine? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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India Has Plenty of Coronavirus Vaccines But Few Takers

By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Sudhi Ranjan Sen
January 26, 2021, 4:00 PM EST
Source: Bloomberg

  •  Doctors shun early-stage vaccine, ignore government pleas
  •  India may fall short of plan to vaccinate 300 million by July
A nurse administers a shot of the Covishield vaccine in Mumbai, on Jan. 16.
A nurse administers a shot of the Covishield vaccine in Mumbai, on Jan. 16. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Most of the world is struggling to secure enough vaccines to inoculate their populations. India has the opposite problem: Plenty of shots, but a shortage of people willing to take them.

As India rolls out one of the world’s biggest inoculation programs, some health-care and other frontline workers are hesitating because of safety concerns over a vaccine that has yet to complete phase III trials. As of Monday, only about 56% of people eligible to get the shot have stepped forward in a nation with the world’s second-worst Covid-19 outbreak.

Unless the inoculation rate significantly increases, India will fall far short of its target of inoculating 300 million people — or about a quarter of the population — by July. That will setback global efforts to contain the virus and snuff out optimism that a recovery is taking root in an economy set for its biggest annual contraction in records going back to 1952.

“At least 40% of doctors here are unsure and want to wait,” said Vinod Kumar, a resident doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences of Patna, in the eastern state of Bihar. “Carrying out a vaccine trial on us when India is short of doctors, health-care workers doesn’t make sense.”

While vaccine hesitancy has surfaced in places like Japan and Brazil, and China’s candidates have also faced questions over data, the scale of the problem in India is by far the biggest. The major difficulties facing places like the U.S. and Europe are mostly due to scarce supplies rather than vaccine acceptance, and some countries are turning to New Delhi for help: India says it can produce 500 million shots per month for export, and countries such as the U.K., Belgium and Saudi Arabia have sought to buy them.

India’s domestic vaccine program administers one of two shots: the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India Ltd., or the Covaxin shot developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd., a private company based in Hyderabad. India’s approval of the Bharat Biotech shot, which was developed with government-backed research groups, was met with widespread criticism from scientists because of the lack of complete data.

“Many in our institute aren’t comfortable with Covaxin because we don’t know how effective it is,” said Adarsh Pratap Singh, a member of the Resident Doctors Association at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. “To build trust among people the government must come out with the data, evidence of the trials, and encourage free and fair discussions.”

Both the company and the government have defended the shot. Krishna Ella, Bharat Biotech’s chairman, said earlier this month that the company carried out “200% honest clinical trials” and had a track record of producing 16 safe and effective vaccines. “Indian scientists want to bash on other Indian scientists,” he said while dismissing criticisms in a virtual press briefing on Jan. 4. A spokesperson for Bharat Biotech didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government, meanwhile, has urged health-care workers to get vaccinated. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has sent tweets imploring “#CoronaWarriors” to take the shot, while dispelling rumors that the vaccine could cause infertility. A federal health ministry spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to comment.

“Vaccine hesitancy among health workers should end — I am pleading on behalf of the government, that please adopt it, because no one knows how this pandemic will take shape in the future,” said V. K. Paul, a member of the planning body Niti Aayog, noting that he’s taken the Covaxin shot without any adverse effects.

A Bitter Vaccine History Means Hurdles for Japan’s Covid Fight

“These two vaccines are safe,” he said. “We have a system to track it and if there is an unusual signal, it will be responded to the way it should be.”

Initial apprehension and doubt at the start of any vaccine rollout is normal, said Preeti Sudan, former secretary at the federal ministry of health and family welfare. India was successful in its polio immunization program, she noted, after launching a massive campaign involving children, mothers and opinion leaders to help dispel vaccine fears.

Low Vaccination Rates

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As of Monday, India distributed about 2 million shots nationwide. In Madhya Pradesh, the largest state in central India, about 75% of enrolled people turned up for vaccination on Jan. 21, while two days later in Bihar the rate was much lower at 51.6%. On Jan. 19, about 55% of those eligible were vaccinated in Rajasthan and 54% in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, according to state government data.

While the hesitation relates to both vaccines, people are most wary about Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. In Tamil Nadu, for example, only 23.5% of those allocated Covaxin received the shots on Jan. 19, compared with 56% for the Serum Institute’s Covishield, the data show.

Nirmalya Mohapatra, a doctor at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, plans to “wait and watch” for more clarity before getting vaccinated with Bharat Biotech’s shot. If given a choice now, he would opt for Covishield, as its efficacy data was reviewed by leading medical journals.

“Covaxin could turn out to be a better vaccine in the future,” said Mohapatra, who is also vice president of the resident doctors’ association at the hospital. “But for now there is some apprehension because of the lack of a complete trial.”

— With assistance by Ganesh Nagarajan

Actually vaccination hesitation is also high in the U.S. although there are efforts to combat the hesitancy. We are uncertain as of yet the hesitancy rate in Great Britain. In fact, in the U.S. and in India the hesitation is very similar: health care professionals and the population at large are also hesitant with many wanting to at least wait until there is more information. The typically clinical trial for a new medicine last about 7 – 8 years in the U.S.? What is the global risk of being wrong about the COVID vaccine? Is rushing a COVID vaccine the only means of addressing the pandemic? What are alternative health and economic solutions

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Temperature Check & Your Health Care Information

Shidonna Johnson Garden and Cook

Featured Image Source: Unsplash, Mufid Majnun 

In an era where companies such as Facebook and Cambridge Analytica was involved in one of the largest privacy and data breaches of Facebook members and hospitals are placing patient information on the internet in unprecedented amounts and ways giving access to patient information typically without their awareness of: who and how much access people have to their medical information. And with organizations like Google seeking to monetize this information. Within this context, one must ask, where has privacy gone in this rising surveillance world.

In the face of the pandemic we struggled as a country to grapple with the pandemic and to move past it as soon as possible. You have likely had your temperature checked at the unlikeliest of places recently from dealerships to beauty supply stores as companies sought to protect their employees and their customers from infection of the COVID 19 virus. In addition to a temperature check you likely have answered a series of questions and health information was collected about you. These companies and organizations are not health professionals and do not readily have the same protections that health care professionals had or used to have in the post freedom of information world.

So where does your information go? Who sees it? How is it protected? How does HIPPA apply? How should the government respond? Where is your health care information? Who can see your health care information and how are they using it? And are you okay with that?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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47% of Americans Still Hesitant to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, New Poll Says

Published: Jan 22, 2021 By Gail Dutton
Source: Biospace

Vaccine Hesitancy
Source: Biospace
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Americans are still hesitant to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to just-released research from Invisibly.

The online survey of 5,537 Americans conducted between December 4 and 14, 2020 shows Americans nearly equally divided on their willingness to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Only 53% said they were willing to get the vaccine.

“That’s a shockingly low number, but it corresponds well with what JAMA has reported,” Don Vaughn, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and VP Data & Insights at Invisibly, which conducted the survey, told BioSpace.

The Invisibly poll found that willingness to be vaccinated is tightly linked to trustworthiness. Of those who trust the vaccines to be safe and effective, 81% said they are willing to be vaccinated. Of those who considered the vaccine very untrustworthy, 80% said they were very unlikely to be vaccinated.

Notably, trust in the vaccine and willingness to be vaccinated correlated to race and age, with Caucasian people and those age 55 and older saying they are most likely to take the vaccine. The survey found no other significant correlations among income, education, gender or other demographics.

Those age 55 and older are the group most willing to take the vaccine (67%) but even among this group, 33% said they were unwilling to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The second most likely group to be vaccinated is aged 18-24 (58%), followed by those 45-54 (50%). Only 47% of respondents between ages 25 and 44 said they are likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re seeing numbers now from California, reported in the Los Angeles Times, that 50% of front line healthcare workers (in Riverside County)  and 20-40% of Los Angeles County’s frontline workers refused to take the vaccine,” Vaughn said. “We presume they’re more medically educated, so…” hesitation among those outside of healthcare is less surprising.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people of color are most distrustful of the vaccine and thus the least likely to be vaccinated despite a higher incidence of COVID-19 in their communities. Of those not willing to be vaccinated:

  • 53% are Black
  • 50% are Latinx
  • 48% are of other ethnicities
  • 38% are White

Lisa Cooper, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity and a former MacArthur “genius” fellow for her work in health disparities, explained the concern on NPR.

“In the Black community, there is skepticism that relates to historical experiences, and mistrust based on the discrimination that Black Americans face in the health care system and in the rest of society. It’s really well-founded,” Cooper said.

The overwhelming reason for this reluctance appears to be distrust of these vaccines (44%). Reports indicate that people are confused by medical terms and don’t understand how a safe vaccine was developed without cutting corners.

Vaughn has an additional explanation.

“A lot of people want to wait a bit,” Vaughn said.

An ABC poll confirmed it, with 44% of those respondents preferring to wait to see how those receiving the initial vaccines fared before rolling up their own sleeves.

In the Invisibly poll, most respondents said they will return to pre-pandemic activities only when officials say it is safe, while 23% said they would resume normal activities after most people are vaccinated. Until then, 75% said they plan to continue wearing a mask and social distancing. Notably, 25% said there are unlikely to wear a mask after vaccination.

Also, 47% of respondents think children should be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to in-person learning. Given the low incidence of COVID-19 among children, 30% said vaccination should not be required for children and 23% were unsure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for January 13“Reported incidence and positive test results among children aged 0–10 years were consistently lower than those in older age groups.” Of the nearly 2.9 million laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in people younger than age 24 since the outbreak began, about 16% occurred in children aged 14-17; nearly 8% in those 11-13 years old; 11% in those 5-10 years old; and slightly more than 7% in those age 4 or younger.

Larry Corey, professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical School, showed Kaplan-Meier curves concurrent with vaccine roll out that showed differences in the infection rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The key to increasing vaccination rates begins with clear communication that translates the medical jargon into everyday language, followed by strategies that deliver ample quantities to vaccine where they are needed and clear guidance as to who is eligible to received the vaccines at given points in time.

For example, Washington state just entered Phase Ib of its vaccination plan and launched an online questionnaire  (http://www.FindYourPhaseWA.org) to help people know when and how to get vaccinated.

There’s still some confusion, though. One of the Phase Ib criteria includes people age 50 and older who live in multigenerational households. The definition of “multigenerational” in this context raises questions. The Washington State Department of Health defines it as two or more generations living together, although it’s often defined as three or more generations living together or grandparents caring for grandchildren. By way for example, the Washington State Department of Health says, “Think of a person over 50 who cannot live independently and receives long-term care from a caregiver, lives with someone who works outside the home, or lives with and cares for a grandchild.” Additional guidance is expected.

Regardless, throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories, people are queuing for vaccinations. Now that nearly 17 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, Vaughn said Invisibly plans to conduct another poll “in about a month,” to see whether attitudes have changed.

Indeed many healthcare workers are hesitant mainly siting the politicization of COVID 19. While other like a Jamaican doctor who died of COVID 19 complications sited poor health care treatment. Will you take the vaccine? Why? Why not? Why do you think people remain hesitant?

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Merck ends COVID-19 vaccine program, cites inferior immune responses

Merck said it will focus COVID-19 research and manufacturing efforts on two investigational medicines


Source: Fox Business

Drugmaker Merck & Co on Monday said it will end development of its two COVID-19 vaccines, and will focus pandemic research on treatments, with initial efficacy data on an experimental oral antiviral expected by the end of March.

Merck said in a statement it will record a pretax discontinuation charge in the fourth quarter for vaccine candidate V591, which it acquired with the purchase of Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience, and V590, developed with nonprofit research organization IAVI.

In early trials, both vaccines generated immune responses that were inferior to those seen in people who had recovered from COVID-19 as well as those reported for other COVID-19 vaccines, the company said.

FED-UP EXECUTIVES PLOT A FASTER COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT

Merck was late to join the race to develop a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 2 million people and continues to surge in many parts of the world including the United States.

U.S. regulators in December authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc and partners Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and tens of millions of doses of both have so far been administered globally. Rivals Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca Plc and others are also racing to develop safe and effective vaccines to protect against the virus.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MRNAMODERNA INC.139.19+8.16+6.23%
PFEPFIZER INC.36.92+0.37+1.00%
BNTXBIONTECH SE106.91-1.53-1.41%
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON164.99+1.43+0.87%
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Source: Fox Business

Merck said it will focus COVID-19 research and manufacturing efforts on two investigational medicines: MK-7110 and MK-4482, which it now calls molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir, which is being developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Bio, is an oral antiviral being studied in both hospital and outpatient settings. Merck said a phase 2/3 trial of the drug is set to finish in May, but initial efficacy results are due in the first quarter and will be made public if clinically meaningful.

Merck said results from a phase 3 study of MK-7110, an immune modulator being studied as a treatment for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, are expected in the first quarter. In December, the company announced a deal to supply MK-7110 to the U.S. government for up to about $356 million. . (Reporting By Deena Beasley Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

What are your thoughts on the Merck COVID drug? Why? Why not?

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Vaccine rollout hits snag as health workers balk at shots

By BERNARD CONDON, MATT SEDENSKY and CARLA K. JOHNSON
January 8, 2021
Source: Associate Press

Source: Associate Press, Jae C. Hong
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, a nurse puts on protective gear in a COVID-19 unit in California. The nation’s biggest immunization rollout in history is facing pushback from an unlikely source: health care workers who witnessed COVID-19′s devastation firsthand but are refusing shots in surprising numbers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The desperately awaited vaccination drive against the coronavirus in the U.S. is running into resistance from an unlikely quarter: Surprising numbers of health care workers who have seen firsthand the death and misery inflicted by COVID-19 are refusing shots.

It is happening in nursing homes and, to a lesser degree, in hospitals, with employees expressing what experts say are unfounded fears of side effects from vaccines that were developed at record speed. More than three weeks into the campaign, some places are seeing as much as 80% of the staff holding back.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be a guinea pig,” said Dr. Stephen Noble, a 42-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon in Portland, Oregon, who is postponing getting vaccinated. “At the end of the day, as a man of science, I just want to see what the data show. And give me the full data.

Alarmed by the phenomenon, some administrators have dangled everything from free breakfasts at Waffle House to a raffle for a car to get employees to roll up their sleeves. Some states have threatened to let other people cut ahead of health care workers in the line for shots.

“It’s far too low. It’s alarmingly low,” said Neil Pruitt, CEO of PruittHealth, which runs about 100 long-term care homes in the South, where fewer than 3 in 10 workers offered the vaccine so far have accepted it.

Many medical facilities from Florida to Washington state have boasted of near-universal acceptance of the shots, and workers have proudly plastered pictures of themselves on social media receiving the vaccine. Elsewhere, though, the drive has stumbled.

While the federal government has released no data on how many people offered the vaccines have taken them, glimpses of resistance have emerged around the country.

In Illinois, a big divide has opened at state-run veterans homes between residents and staff. The discrepancy was worst at the veterans home in Manteno, where 90% of residents were vaccinated but only 18% of the staff members.

In rural Ashland, Alabama, about 90 of some 200 workers at Clay County Hospital have yet to agree to get vaccinated, even with the place so overrun with COVID-19 patients that oxygen is running low and beds have been added to the intensive care unit, divided by plastic sheeting.

The pushback comes amid the most lethal phase in the outbreak yet, with the death toll at more than 350,000, and it could hinder the government’s effort to vaccinate somewhere between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population to achieve “herd immunity.

Administrators and public health officials have expressed hope that more health workers will opt to be vaccinated as they see their colleagues take the shots without problems.

Oregon doctor Noble said he will wait until April or May to get the shots. He said it is vital for public health authorities not to overstate what they know about the vaccines. That is particularly important, he said, for Black people like him who are distrustful of government medical guidance because of past failures and abuses, such as the infamous Tuskegee experiment.

Medical journals have published extensive data on the vaccines, and the Food and Drug Administration has made its analysis public. But misinformation about the shots has spread wildly online, including falsehoods that they cause fertility problems.

Stormy Tatom, 30, a hospital ICU nurse in Beaumont, Texas, said she decided against getting vaccinated for now “because of the unknown long-term side effects.”

“I would say at least half of my coworkers feel the same way,” Tatom said.

There have been no signs of widespread severe side effects from the vaccines, and scientists say the drugs have been rigorously tested on tens of thousands and vetted by independent experts.

States have begun turning up the pressure. South Carolina’s governor gave health care workers until Jan. 15 to get a shot or “move to the back of the line.” Georgia’s top health official has allowed some vaccines to be diverted to other front-line workers, including firefighters and police, out of frustration with the slow uptake.

“There’s vaccine available but it’s literally sitting in freezers,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey. “That’s unacceptable. We have lives to save.”

Nursing homes were among the institutions given priority for the shots because the virus has cut a terrible swath through them. Long-term care residents and staff account for about 38% of the nation’s COVID-19 fatalities.

In West Virginia, only about 55% of nursing home workers agreed to the shots when they were first offered last month, according to Martin Wright, who leads the West Virginia Health Care Association.

“It’s a race against social media,” Wright said of battling falsehoods about the vaccines.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said only 40% of the state’s nursing home workers have gotten shots. North Carolina’s top public health official estimated more than half were refusing the vaccine there.

SavaSeniorCare has offered cash to the 169 long-term care homes in its 20-state network to pay for gift cards, socially distanced parties or other incentives. But so far, data from about a third of its homes shows that 55% of workers have refused the vaccine.

CVS and Walgreens, which have been contracted by a majority of U.S. nursing homes to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, have not released specifics on the acceptance rate. CVS said that residents have agreed to be immunized at an “encouragingly high” rate but that “initial uptake among staff is low,” partly because of efforts to stagger when employees receive their shots.

Some facilities have vaccinated workers in stages so that the staff is not sidelined all at once if they suffer minor side effects, which can include fever and aches.

The hesitation isn’t surprising, given the mixed message from political leaders and misinformation online, said Dr. Wilbur Chen, a professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in the science of vaccines.

He noted that health care workers represent a broad range of jobs and backgrounds and said they are not necessarily more informed than the general public.

“They don’t know what to believe either,” Chen said. But he said he expects the hesitancy to subside as more people are vaccinated and public health officials get their message across.

Some places have already seen turnarounds, such as Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“The biggest thing that helped us to gain confidence in our staff was watching other staff members get vaccinated, be OK, walk out of the room, you know, not grow a third ear, and so that really is like an avalanche,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer. “The first few hundred that we had created another 300 that wanted the vaccine.”

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; Candice Choi in New York; Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Bryan Anderson in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Why are so many medical professionals one of the main communities hesitant to take a vaccine created within their own industry? Some say it was politicized? Others say it has not been adequately tested? What do you say?

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Wisconsin hospital employee fired, arrested after ‘intentionally’ destroying 500 doses of Covid vaccine

Source: NBC News

“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed,” the hospital said.Dec. 31, 2020, 12:44 PM EST / Updated Dec. 31, 2020, 5:16 PM ESTBy Elizabeth Chuck and Ben Kesslen

A Wisconsin hospital employee has been fired and arrested after removing dozens of vials of the coronavirus vaccine from a pharmacy refrigerator, intentionally destroying more than 500 doses, a hospital investigation found.

The incident happened over the weekend at the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, north of Milwaukee. Grafton police announced the arrest of the pharmacist Thursday, but did not name the man or identify a motive.

Police said in a statement they arrested the former employee on suspicion of recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property. The damage he caused “was estimated to be between $8,000 and $11,000,” police said.

Initially, it appeared that the 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine — which must be kept between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit — had been left out overnight accidentally, hospital officials said. Each vial holds approximately 10 doses of the vaccine.

But Wednesday, the Aurora Medical Center announced the hospital worker involved “acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.”

Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wis.
Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wis.Google Maps
Source: NBC News
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed,” the hospital said in a statement, adding that the employee has been terminated. “This was a violation of our core values.”

The Moderna vaccine has a 12-hour window once it has been thawed. Most doses of the vaccine that had been left out of the pharmacy refrigerator had to be discarded, although hospital officials later believed they could salvage some. After the hospital administered more than 50 doses of the vaccines that had been thawed, it learned the shots had actually been thawed twice, rendering them ineffective, a hospital official said Thursday at a press conference. The hospital said all those who received an ineffective vaccination have been notified and that those individuals are not at risk.

News of the spoiled vaccine doses in Wisconsin comes as the United States struggles to meet its goals for vaccination. So far, only about 2.8 million people have been vaccinated, far short of the 20 million the Trump administration had hoped for by year-end.

The vaccine is not yet widely available, and health care workers and nursing home residents have priority for the first doses.

On Wednesday, Advocate Aurora Health, the health system that Aurora Medical Center is part of, said it has vaccinated more than 21,000 health care workers so far.

The pharmacist is currently being held at Ozaukee County Jail.

Image: Elizabeth ChuckElizabeth Chuck

Elizabeth Chuck is a reporter for NBC News.Image: Ben KesslenBen Kesslen

Ben Kesslen is a reporter for NBC News. Matteo Moschella contributed.

Why do you think this medical professional destroyed the vaccine? Why? Why not?

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