OPINION

The vaccine, fear and faith

the-vaccine-fear-and-faith

The moment of truth is arriving, when – for some sooner, for others later – we will be able to choose whether we want to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The past few months have been tough, with a steep rise in the number of infections and deaths. We felt the threat approaching. It is to be expected that more people will welcome the vaccine than would have even a few months ago.

International and national information campaigns will aim for the greatest possible participation in the vaccination program, so as to protect the most vulnerable and achieve immunity for the greater part of the population.

It is understandable, though, that many people will be wary about something new and foreign being injected into them. The question is whether people are more afraid of the disease, whose origins we still do not know and for which there is no adequate treatment, or of the product of scientific innovation which was created at unprecedented speed?

Those who fear the disease more are, naturally, among the greatest supporters of the vaccine. As are those who trust science.

As human beings, though, we are designed to trust and to fear: If we were incapable of trust, we would not have developed into the social beings that we are, and, most probably, our species would be extinct. If we did not feel fear, we would not seek the help of others, and, alone, would be vulnerable to every danger.

Without the pioneers of thought and creativity, without exceptional people of great courage, we would not be able to overcome the challenges that nature throws at us.

Jonas Salk not only invented the vaccine for polio, but he first tested it on himself and his children to make sure that it worked and to ease the public’s fears.

A study in the Texas Heart Institute Journal in 2012 counted 465 cases since 1800 in which doctors conducted experiments on themselves, with 140 of these involving dangerous infectious diseases. The result: Eight doctors and scientists died but, in 89 percent of cases, significant process was made in combatting disease or acquiring knowledge.

Waiting for the vaccine which we hope will return us to a semblance of our former lives, we are called on to deal with our fear of the unknown and to overcome our suspicions, to put our faith in the collective power of humanity – in scientists, companies and state services. We are united not only by the threat we face, but also by the solution.