‘My friend got Corona even after Vaccination’ — Should i take the Jab?

Dear friends, we are living in unprecedented times, and saying this would be a massive understatement to say the least. Today as i write this article we are facing the 2nd wave, or more aptly a ‘tsunami’ of coronavirus infections. Our health system is incapable of handling such a massive rush of patients. Beds, Oxygen supplies, doctors, ambulances, almost everything is overloaded. People are waiting in their vehicles outside hospitals in hopes if they can get that ‘lucky chance’ to get a hospital bed and ‘proper care’ for their loved ones.

In all this doom and gloom, if there is 1 glimmer of hope, it is these Vaccines developed by various organisations all around the globe.

But at the same time their are a lot of doubts, apprehensions, confusions and misconceptions about these vaccines among a lot of people, which is stopping them from going for a jab.

I am writing this article not to clarify some doubts. This article is not to persuade you to go get a jab, but to share some facts and numbers, so you can yourself make a more informed decision about what to do. Should you or should you not, go for the vaccine?

‘One of my friends got corona 1 week after vaccination’

This is a common sentence i have heard. Everybody has that 1 friend who took the vaccine but got infected later on. Let us try to understand why this happened with the concept of ‘Efficacy’.

Efficacy:

You must have heard this term a lot with many vaccines. Some vaccines are 80% ‘effective’ , others are 95% effective, and some even claim to be 100% effective. But what does this efficacy mean?

Common sense would say, if you get vaccinated there is 95% chance you won’t get infected or that if a1000 people get vaccinated, 950 of them will not catch the infection while 50 still can. Let me share with you as a doctor, that both these statements are wrong. This is not what efficacy really means.

Here’s what it really means.

Let’s say there are 1000 in a city A. Now without any vaccination, just by chance and natural course of action, about 100 of them would have got infected with COVID19 and become sick. Out of those 100, as the data suggests, approximately 3% or 3 people will loose their life and approximately 6–7 will be hospitalised with serious illness. Now let’s say we choose another city, city B, which is just like City A in every aspect. All 1000 people in this city are vaccinated. We know that without any intervention, by natural course, or by default, 100 people would have gotten sick with the infection. But it was seen that in this group, only 5 people got infection and not 100. This 100–5 = 95, is the efficacy of the vaccine.

95% efficacy means that the people (or percentage of people) who were anyways going to get sick (in a population), out of those only 5% would get sick and 95% would not. The 95% were saved, because of the vaccine. but sadly 5% will still get it.

In short if otherwise 100 people out of a 1000 were going to get sick, now only 5 will and 95 will be safe. The other 900, were gonna be safe anyways (“for now”).

Just think about it for a minute. Imagine, India has a population of 100 crores (imagine). Let’s say in total without the vaccine, around 5 crore people would have gotten sick. And if 5 Crore people do get sick, at a 3% fatality rate we can expect 15 lakh deaths. Devastating figure!, isn’t it? I just pray we never see this imagination come true.

Now imagine, we have vaccinated the entire country with a vaccine that is 90% effective. What do you think will happen?

90% of these 5 crore people, who would have otherwise been sick, now they will not get sick, only the remaining 10% will.

That means only 50 lakh will now get sick, instead of 5 crore.

Now 50 lakh is a big number to make someone believe that even after vaccination, 50 lakh people got infected and hence, the vaccine is useless. But without the vaccine this number would have been higher, Much — Much higher. 5 crore to be exact!

What additionally has been seen is that the other 10% , that do get infected, inspite of taking the vaccine, mostly never become serious patients requiring hospitalisation. In Clinical trials, none of the vaccine takers became so sick that they would need an ICU. ZERO deaths were reported among vaccine takers in clinical studies.

So, i suppose now you understand what is the true meaning of this 95% efficacy. And why you will always see ‘someone’ , who took the vaccine and still got infected. But if you look deeper, for every such 1 person there will be 19 others who never got it and were saved because of the vaccine. Which group do you wish to be in?

There is always risk in life. There is a risk in everything. We just have to see the odds, and numbers and decide which risk we are willing to take for the most benefit expected. Again, my purpose is not to persuade you to go get vaccinated, but to make you more informed, so you can decide for yourself.

NEWS ABOUT DEATH OF SOME PEOPLE WITH BLOOD CLOTS IN US & EUROPE:

Yes, these news are not false. They are true. But let us see the numbers once again.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine that was temporarily paused for these reports was later approved by the FDA in US. Here are the numbers.

The vaccine was given to 70 lakh people. Out of those 70 Lakh! , 15 people developed blood clots. 3 of them died.

If we see the numbers above, of 95% efficacy, this means, if no one was vaccinated, ~7 lakh of these people could have gotten Covid 19.

And ~21,000 may have died.

Will the set of 15 people who died of vaccine side effects overlap the set which died of Covid19? Would these 15 people have survived otherwise, or Covid19 would have taken them? We can never know.

But we can clearly see the risk vs benefit ratio here.

Which risk would you take if you were a policy maker?

No vaccine, 7 lakh infections and 21,000 deaths

or

Vaccine, 15 cases of blood clots and 3 deaths.

Tough choice! but in life, we have to measure risk everywhere.

Similar are the results of other vaccines. There have been adverse reactions to many vaccines, but considering the numbers, we have to take a call.

Fear of Side effects:

It is normal to be afraid of some side effects. It is in human nature to be wary sometimes. Some common side effects after vaccination include

  1. Pain at injection side
  2. Redness or itching at injection site
  3. Difficulty moving the arm for a few days
  4. Mild fever
  5. Body pains

There could be some other minot side effects. These side effects are usually your bodies immune reaction trying to respond to the vaccine, which is a good thing, means the immune response started and it would prevent you from a real infection later on.

Although you must stay at the vaccination centre for around 15 to 30 minutes after the vaccination to make sure there are no severe reactions and so you can be managed well in case there are.

Also, if you get severe and persistent fever, sore throat, chest pain or other serious complaints after the vaccination, it is always advisable to contact your doctor immediately.

All that said, more than 11 crore people in India have been vaccinated, and we have not seen any serious events as such as per the data shared by the government. Worldwide more than 20 crore have been vaccinated. In my personal view, the vaccine is safe, has already been proven by such high numbers.

Hidden Chip / Just water / Political stunt:

Well these are some myths and misconceptions that don’t deserve any explanation to be honest. Any wise and educated person should know that these conspiracy theories are totally baseless.

In fact, i would like to request me readers that if you see any such images or msgs on WhatsApp or social media, do ‘report’ them.

Today we live in the age of information. There are a lot of things running around on the internet. True, false, made up, or distorted, anything can be posted and shared. But we must remember, people make opinions based on the information they see. People take their decisions based on the information they see. And many a times, these decisions could mean the difference between life and death.

Hence we must be very responsible about that we share and forward. Specially when it is related to health.

If we would just take a moment, before forwarding anything. If we take a moment to fact check, go to some reliable source and see, if what is being sent is even true, we can stop this chain of misinformation. We can save lives by not forwarding things that are plain false and untrue.

In these difficult times, the least we can do, for our fellow human beings, is to make sure we share information responsibly. Information has a lot of power and you can be a medium for a positive change in society by sharing the right information.

I hope this article brought some value to you.

If it did, share this with your friends and family. It may help clear some doubts in their mind about this new Vaccination regime.

Stay safe! Help others!

Authors & Reviewers:

Dr. Rohit Sharma

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Dr. Rohit Sharma

Physician, startup founder, innovation enthusiast, risk taker, astrologer, learner, leader.