COVID-19 Diary – Day 266

What Will the Vaccine Feel Like?

As we prepare for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines to become available, some of you may be wondering what kind of experience you can expect during and after the inoculations. Both Oxford/Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine candidates utilize brand new mRNA technology and trick your body into producing proteins with the same “spike” that COVID-19 has (although does not carry the virus itself in any form). This tricks your body into producing antibodies that specifically target the spike, and help provide future immunity in most patients. Both of these vaccines also require a second dose 3 weeks after the first one.

Reports from those who have taken part in the phase III trials for either vaccine have shared fairly consistent feedback on the experience. The first shot is like other vaccines, you may experience muscle and bone pain on the receiving arm, fatigue or headaches, and some people experience fever and chills. Most of these symptoms will resolve within a day, but for some, they could last for 2-3 days. These are all normal and healthy reactions and nothing to be concerned about. Fewer than 2% of recipients of either vaccine developed severe fevers of 39°C to 40°C.

Patients in both studies generally reported that the second shot of the vaccine is more intense when it comes to side effects. Again, this is normal and healthy and expected. After receiving the shot you may feel the need to stay in bed for the rest of the day. It might even be a good idea to book a day off of work in advance for recovery, depending on the kind of work.

There have also been reports that the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be stored at -70°C, may cause additional discomfort due to the coldness of the vaccine itself. Of course, the vaccine will not be injected when it is at such a cold temperature, as it can be stable for short periods of time in warmer spaces before being taken, but the temperature difference may still cause some discomfort in some. Don’t worry, this is also normal and will not cause you any harm.

Foreign Disinformation Campaigns Fuel Non-Compliance and Conspiracy Theories

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) recently declassified a document that details an investigation into disinformation campaigns being run by Russia, China, and Iran, to discredit Canadian Public Health orders, and encourage non-compliance.

In general, each country has their own motivations and methods for spreading disinformation. China for example wants to push the conspiracy theories that suggest that the virus originated outside of China, and promote anything that reinforces the message that China did not obfuscate data early on when the infection was discovered. Iran is mainly focused on attempting to shift the blame of their situation onto the failings of other countries and is attempting to encourage efforts to discredit the effectiveness of health measures. Russia on the other hand is mainly trying to sow discord within Western democracies, whether by amplifying conspiracy theories or by just trying to discredit certain initiatives that governments are doing.

A study was done earlier in the year on the effects of disinformation on people’s compliance with health measures and found that it can have a significant impact on behaviour. There are conflicting opinions on how accurate this may be, but the study’s evidence is compelling and concerning none the less. And one only has to look at the anti-health rallies being held in different regions to see that support for this kind of disinformation continues in at least some vocal groups.

Halifax Asymptomatic Testing Pilot Project Reports Results

For a little under 2 weeks now, Halifax has been running a pilot project on asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. In that time they have swabbed 5,477 people who did not exhibit symptoms of the disease, and so far they have reported 21 positive results, at least 2 of which have now been confirmed as false-positives. All positive results are double-checked at a lab with an additional swab PCR test.

These results confirm a test positivity rate of under 0.35% and seem to confirm the comments of health professionals such as Dr. Bonnie Henry who have repeatedly commented on the poor accuracy of low effectiveness of asymptomatic testing, especially when compared to the number of resources it consumes. While this pilot project is being hailed as a success by some, it must be difficult to find those results specifically encouraging.

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

We would like to give a shout out to Evyanon for the ‘Vaccine Watch’ artwork featured in today’s post. If you enjoy the artwork please let her know!

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