The first people are already being vaccinated against the coronavirus. In the UK, a 91-year-old woman was the first person to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 jab, and other vaccines are steadily being rolled out as testing and approval processes are completed. Health experts warn, however, that it will take time to produce, distribute, and vaccinate enough people to significantly slow the spread of the virus. In the meantime, we should continue to follow official advice about social distancing and mask wearing.

What do our readers think? Miguel points out that tens of thousands of healthcare workers have been infected during the COVID-19 pandemic in his country (Spain). So, now that effective vaccines has been discovered, should healthcare workers receive it first? If not, who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

We put Miguel’s comment to Christiane Woopen, Professor of Ethics and Theory of Medicine at the University of Cologne. How would she respond?

For another perspective, we also spoke to Sara Cerdas, a Portuguese medical doctor and politician who serves as a Member of the European Parliament with the Socialists & Democrats group. What would she say?

Great question, Miguel. This is actually quite important to understand what will be the strategy to vaccinate against the COVID-19 disease and, in other words, to be immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

So, first and foremost we need to assure protection, and this vaccine will confer group immunity. For this to happen, we must allow for some people who cannot receive the vaccine for health reasons, so the whole world’s population must protect them. This varies from disease to disease; for instance, for measles, you need a coverage of 95 to 98 percent of the population in order to reach this group immunity.

Those that cannot have the disease are those who are immuno-suppresed, for instance those who have undergone a transplant or are undergoing oncology treatments, among many, many others – so these are your average colleague or friend.

Healthcare workers are in the frontline of the battle against this virus. They should be the ones – healthcare and social services workers – having access to this kind of protection first. Why? Because they are the ones most exposed to the virus so they have a high chance of being infected, so we need to decrease this risk.

I would also like to call attention to the strategy which the European Commission launched in this regard. So, we need to protect our most vulnerable – it’s not only those that are hit hardest with the disease, it’s also those that are at higher risk of being infected. In this respect, healthcare workers should be one of the first groups to be vaccinated and immunised against this virus…

It’s incredibly rare for a vaccine to be developed in less than five years. Julia argues that many people have genuine and valid concerns about rushed pandemic vaccines that might not have not been safely tested. Are the new vaccines safe?

Here’s what Sara Cerdas had to say to Julia:

Julia, that’s a quite important question, because how did we manage to pull this off? And that’s the million dollar question, so to say. There are two premises for any medicine to be developed – you need funding, because everything needs funding for research to be developed; research is your way of finding something new, so it’s through a trial-and-error process, and for this to happen you need funding. And the other part is that you need to test the medicine, first in a laboratory and then on healthy humans and humans with the same pathology in double-blind studies.

What is important here is that we managed to speed up the process. It usually takes around 15 years to develop this sort of medicine, and we sped up the process in terms of financing and also in terms of the availability of the virus during the pandemic. So, these two premises meant that many companies managed to accelerate the process because they had the tools and resources to do it.

What are we guaranteeing at the European Union level? The European Medicines Agency is the one that is going to say: “This vaccine is safe to go to market”. Of course, in medicine, and I’m a medical doctor myself and my professors have told me: in medicine you cannot say “never” or “always”. These absolute measures do not exist. So, anything that we do comes with its risks. There are some risks in taking vaccines, for example an allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine that binds to the active substance. But there are higher odds of you being hit by lightning than the odds of having an allergic reaction to a vaccine.

Everything we do comes with a risk, and the risk here is very low. Most vaccines are very, very safe and a lot of myths related to vaccines have been debunked over the years. There was one study that said vaccines are bad, but for that one study there were a ton of other studies saying that study was not correct, and the author of that study even got expelled from the scientific community because it was discovered they were working for industry. It hindered health information and helped vaccine hesitancy.

The important thing is that there are a lot of steps and processes a medicine must follow to guarantee safety and efficacy. They are not being skipped, and we are following all of them. Even though there is a lot of pressure for the EMA to say these vaccines are safe and ready for market, they are working through all the steps and not skipping anything.

Next up, Paul (Παυλος) asks whether individuals should have the right to put everyone’s health at risk by refusing vaccination. For example, should those who have been vaccinated be allowed to leave lockdown earlier than those who refuse it?

How would Christiane Woopen reply?

Finally, Basti is worried about the “fight” between countries over who gets the vaccine first. Is it selfish, for example, if the EU buys COVID vaccines before other, less wealthy countries can?

What would Christiane Woopen say?

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first? Should quarantine end earlier for people who get vaccinated? Is the EU selfishly buying vaccines before other countries can? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!

Image Credits: Bigstock © insta_photos; Portrait Credits: Cerdas – (cc) Circwork
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18 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

    Anyone but me!

    This is the craziest waste of money I have ever heard of. Tax payers again footing the bill for the wealthy socialist billionaires.

    On TV today they showed dupes that feel they are doing their duty by putting themselves at risk. And when they told them openly, it does not cover them for anything at all, they just smiled and said, well, we can give it a try and hope for the best. Give it a try? Doesn’t cover you against contracting covid 19, doesn’t cover you for not passing on the disease should you have it, it does not stop you from becoming seriously ill with the virus should you contract it and does not cover you keeping you alive should you get it? Doesn’t promise it won’t make you seriously ill as a result of any side effects. Doesn’t tell you of the possible side effects they have witnessed. Doesn’t tell you what the purpose is for taking it! And then, suggest, you will be forced to have it or will pay a price for not doing so.

    Are they quite mad?

  2. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    Neurological or other health conditions from vaccine adverse side effects are not allergic reactions, so that was an incomplete point. Also, producing the vaccine quicker has nothing to do with 5 years of safety testing so that answer is redundant. Additionally, the vaccines on the market are stated as potentially reducing symptoms and that the vaccinated are still virus super-spreaders and contagious. In light of this info high-risk vulnerable groups should be offered the vaccine, fully informed of the vaccine damage risks. I personally think it is unethical and unwise to offer the vaccine to nurses and doctors unless they are in high-risk vulnerable groups because we don’t want these important people getting irreversibly vaccine damaged from a rushed experimental vaccine. Plus, one of the Meps said something like people who do not vaccinate should not be discriminated against–yet. That better not be happening at anytime or there will be a revolution. Also, why are covid treatments being swept under the rug? The well-renowned and highly respected Monash University for medical research has found an FDA approved drug stops the covid virus from making copies of itself in 48 hours. This is life-saving treatment and those suppressing this info are murderers. I heard that the untested/barely tested vaccines cannot be approved for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) if there are other viable treatments available. Is this why FDA drug approved treatments are being kept quiet? I have to say, if this is the case it is a pure evil act.

    • avatar
      Bogdan Ionescu

      Fabio Annunziata start with your parents!

    • avatar
      Fabio Annunziata

      Bogdan Ionescu yes, of course. They are waiting for the call, probably at the end of january. Good luck

  3. avatar
    David Fernandes Coelho

    The elderly and the sick people who are able to get the vaccine

  4. avatar
    Graz Vyda

    First, the medical (and other) personnel working with infected and potentially infected persons and persons in the risk group.

  5. avatar
    Miguel Palma

    Firstly, covid has drugs that cure it from one day to the next. The vaccine has products inside that are very doubtful for what the purpose is. Just because you dont see on the news the problems that are being happening with the vaccine doesnt mean that its not happening.Now, lets imagine any vaccine, in my opinion a healthy person should not be given a vaccine for our body creates naturally its defenses better than any crazy cientist.Then, giving a vaccine to the front line workers, if in some months provokes a serious disease, with health workers who should take care of them.Also, we should be guarded from attacks.

    • avatar
      Simona Mamo

      Miguel Palma the cure you are talking about is not available to the general public as it’s too costly to produce

    • avatar
      Dobromir Georgiev

      You do realize that any vaccine is basically a training tool for those natural defences that the body creates, right? It’s not a cure and is meant to be given to healthy people and not to those who are already sick.
      That’s like basic knowledge and if you don’t know it, it would mean that you are some kind of special idiot that did not get anything from school. In this case, it’s very understandable that you think that anyone who is a little bit smarter to than you would seem to you like a “crazy cientist”.

    • avatar
      Michelle Soric

      Their point has great arguments and yours mostly insults as children to in a playground to force what they want.
      Look up the word Debate, i believe this page is called Debating Europe 🌼

  6. avatar
    Franck Legon

    Politics and journalists that promotes it.

  7. avatar
    Miguel Palma

    Dobromir Georgiev Michelle Soric do some investigation of your own to understand what is in the vaccine, dont just speak of what you hear in the news, I was actually debating something, you answered talk you heard without trying to investigate.

  8. avatar
    Dobromir Georgiev

    “Firstly, covid has drugs that cure it from one day to the next.” – No there is not. So far our medics cannot cure the disease and are focused on keeping people alive until their own bodies mount an immune response.
    “The vaccine has products inside that are very doubtful for what the purpose is.” – It does not. Also which one? There are a few COVID-19 vaccines and they work very differently. Every part of each vaccine has its purpose and people who create them understand it very well.
    “Just because you dont see on the news the problems that are being happening with the vaccine doesnt mean that its not happening” This sentence does not make sense at all. It just shows that you are dumb. Also, where would I see those problems? Every drug is rigorously tested before being released. Mistakes always happen but if we’re going to look at the issue like that, we can just forsake all medicine and let nature take its course.
    We already talked about how “in your opinion” healthy people should not be given vaccines and we have our own immune system to fight off infectious diseases. I just want to remind you how stupid this sentence is as vaccines are designed specifically to prepare your immune system for a certain disease. And this is done while the person is healthy. You do not train for a fight during the fight.
    ” Then, giving a vaccine to the front line workers, if in some months provokes a serious disease, with health workers who should take care of them.” – And who would take care of the medical workers if they get sick from an infectious disease? Do you realize that medical workers already receive additional vaccines to the ones the general public usually gets? This is because they are always in danger to catch an infectious disease and I am not talking just about COVID here.
    “Also, we should be guarded from attacks” – What the hell does this mean?

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