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Promoting Vaccine Efficacy in A Digital Age

Author: Andrew Maiorino

Behind my role in market research and serving our clients, I’ve always had innate layers of trust and understanding in scientific principles and ideas. After all, physicians practice daily, relying on medial foundations developed by using the scientific method. Any hypothesis must be falsifiable—meaning the idea is testable and given the chance to be proven wrong. I believe society has built that trust to a strong degree with many of our therapeutic treatments. The medical community knows what chemicals and genetic modalities make for an effective treatment. For example, take the vaccine category. Any vaccine undergoes the most rigorous medical testing before the prophylactic is brought to the market, even in the case of COVID-19, where researchers were forced to accelerate the process. Yet the public still doubts the outcome.

I’m of the firm understanding that to create more of a trust and less fear from the population, we need to combat with facts and a comprehension of vaccine biological composition. Any detail is crucial as we move forward, such as the difference between mRNA versus other vaccines, and how each method is achieves effectiveness in its own unique way.

mRNA vaccine dosages still produce antibodies, which create a resistance to COVID-19. All mRNA vaccines are really designed to do is spur the creation of proteins within cells, thus, providing instructions to mimic the virus, and prepare us for the real deal.

For those of us who haven’t had the disease, our immune systems are largely unprepared for such a contagious and highly impactful pathogen, hence the need for social distancing and mask wearing in public. What allows COVID-19 to be so insidious is the ability for the protein spikes to infect our bodies by binding to cell receptors.

The question remains, how do we move forward with an accurate internet and educational presence to combat misinformation?

This all starts with education. I’m not referring to solely academic education, but rather education through the realms of social media and internet searches. We have great tools and media to use in the 2021 global society and marketplace. However, the amount of misinformation we can discover from sifting through certain posts and websites is alarming. The more people search, the more people can fall into a wormhole of fraud to validate illogical arguments. What researchers, medical organizations, and vaccine advocates need to do is make sure accuracy and knowledge are more widely prevalent and understood by the general public. By giving the world the tools to check their sources and differentiate real science instead of pseudoscience, we would have many less myths.

How do we frame science versus pseudoscience? It all depends on context, measure of scientific consensus, and the particulars of the theory/treatment. In medicine, most misinformation about vaccines are not propagated by healthcare professionals, even if they appear to be. In science, the majority rules, and so does peer-reviewed research. Let’s try and provide experts with the platforms and the ability to explain how and why these processes work. Give them more of a forum—and the right tools—to drown out fringe conspiracies.

Reinforcing the idea of peer review with the public would be a great first step. Experimentation and documents containing laboratory studies can be a daunting read. However, there are ways to pinpoint the specific information that needs to be pulled from a scientific journal. Not everyone has to know the exact mathematical or statistical calculations in a dataset, but everyday people are capable of learning specific details, number of article citations, evidence to support the research claims, and what experts have to say in regard to the topic.

Pushing back on waves of misinformation is a continual fight, and it hasn’t been an easy one. With more participation from citizens and voices of reason, people can be converted to a state of acceptance. If you think back 10-15 years ago, the anti-vax coalition was a much smaller fraction of the public discourse. I stay positive and do believe that many are stuck in limbo, meaning they’re not sure how to feel about COVID-19 vaccines. I think by converting this sector of the population to believe in the safety/efficacy of vaccines, the medical community will have won half the battle. If we’re able to return to some semblance of normalcy in the coming months, pseudoscientific ideas will be relegated to the fringes once again.

In the meantime, let’s all continue pushing accurate medical information on our social media pages!

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