Letters & Opinion

The COVID-19 Vaccines: Conspiracy Theories or Facts?

By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

The Ministry of Health in St. Lucia has done extremely well in dealing with the COVID -19 Virus. Similarly, our nurses in St. Lucia have been excellent in their performance, especially those in the frontline dealing with the monster virus.

As of Tuesday, 25th May, COVID-19 data on St. Lucia Shows that 4945 people have contracted the virus; 4626 persons have recovered and about 77 persons have died from the virus. In fact, our situation is bad enough compared to many islands in the Caribbean basin.

The Ministry of Health is trying to obtain herd immunity in St. Lucia to allow the populace to get back into their normal life situation prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In this regard, the Ministry started an aggressive immunization programme in March 2021.A lot of effort has gone into trying to encourage persons to take the vaccine. But there is a wave of hesitancy among the people who are expected to assist in reaching herd immunity.

Now let us look at the immunization data for St. Lucia. My source of information comes from the CDC, WHO, ECDC and the local broadcasts.

As of 24th May 2021, 27,507 or 15.1% of a population of 182,000 people, have received the 1st Dose of the vaccine; Some 17,969 or 9.8 % of the population has received the 2nd Dose. The figures would vary slightly depending on the size of the population used in the analysis. However, using the raw data from St. Lucia about the number of persons who have received the 1st and 2nd Dose of the vaccine, would still produce the central or correct data.

Now to achieve herd immunity of 70% of the population of 182,000; that is persons who must receive both doses, is 127,400. people. I wish to point out that persons under the age of 18 years should not be part of the analysis since they are not vaccinated.

It is important to note here that the persons between the ages of 0-18 years is about 49,000 people in St. Lucia. If we delete that part of the population, we would be left with 133,000 persons to receive both doses I would like to indicate that to achieve herd immunity the Ministry of Health would have to immunize 73% of the population That is 133,000 of 182,000 people is 73%.

Earlier in this article, I indicated that in three months 17, 969 had received both doses of the vaccine. At that rate, it will take about 23 months to receive herd immunity in St. Lucia. That is by January 2023. Any statistician could analyse the data and see what happens! It is clear 73% is too high a percentage to achieve herd immunity.

Based on the number of persons who could be immunized and the rate of persons who have received both doses, make it appear that the people aren’t coming to be vaccinated, which is not true. The people are coming for the vaccine. And the nurses administering the vaccine say so all the time. However, they are coming slowly or are reluctant to take the vaccine.

But why are the people reluctant to take the vaccine? Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO had said clearly, that people in the Americas and the Caribbean are reluctant to take the vaccines. The emphasized that in Peru only 3% of the population has taken both doses of the vaccine although a vigorous vaccination campaign has been in force for several months.

In St. Lucia for example, there is an exceedingly high literacy rate. However, most of the people have received some form of knowledge which, I insist, has created such reluctance. They have been bombarded with large volumes of videos which they listen to. These videos provide a wealth of information in graphical form and sound. But whether the information is true or false is really the crux of the matter.

Now let us sift through the pile of videos. I learnt from a man who claims to be a virologist, that half of the persons who have taken the vaccines will die within one year. The rest will eventually die. He insisted that epidemiologists all know that!

Another video explains that the vaccines have the capability of modifying the body’s immune system.

Indeed, many individuals have tried to propagate their ideas about the effects of the vaccines. Whether they are right or wrong, is what we all are very eager to determine.

Right here in St. Lucia, I have heard people say that they follow the science which has enabled them to take the vaccine. I, myself, have taken both doses of the vaccine and I have said, “what will be, will be”.

But what has confused people the most and thus fuel their reluctance, is that the WHO, PAHO, CDC and Ministry of Health personnel has said that taking both doses of the vaccine does not prevent you from getting the COVID-19 virus. If you do, the chances of dying because of the virus is ridiculously slim compared to someone who has not been vaccinated.

In the Caribbean, it had been reported that many people who took the vaccine suffered negative effects and there are those who have even died. Now whether those persons died because of taking the vaccine or because of other causes, is still to be determined. We are told that most of the effects of the vaccines are minor. Many will agree!

Now we come to the matter of testing for the virus. We have been hearing of the PCR and Antigen Tests. From my understanding of the literature, an antigen test is a rapid or quick test to determine the presence of a virus. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test also seeks to determine the presence of a virus in the body. Both uses the swabbing procedure from your nostrils to obtain the sample.

But which of the two tests produces the best results? To be honest, we may need a dozen lectures to receive a satisfactory answer. And time does not allow me to reproduce some of the information espoused by scientists.

I have learnt very recently, that if you have been infected by the virus, your body will develop a natural immunity to the virus and that the vaccine should be taken three months thereafter as a booster. Many people do not know that. Many others do.

Now I have not even touched on some of the historical and religious reasons why people may not want to take the vaccines.

My dear reader, you now understand the reasons why so many people are reluctant to take the vaccines. The real conflicts within self! I have written quite a bit in this article, and I have said nothing to encourage you to take the vaccine.

That is precisely the purpose of the article. To determine whether the information you have received are conspiracy theories or facts? Over to you!

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