Public health in the post-truth era
Text: Narcis George Matache
Humanity has always feared the unknown. Since the beginning, we huddled around the fire and warned those who might desire to wander into the dark. "Stay away from the darkness, you don't know what might be hidden there". While most would heed the warning, some would always succumb to curiosity. Thanks to their courage, we've achieved progress as humans. The known has slowly become larger than the fire pit area, and the wanderers led humanity to master the unknown. Yet, neigh sayers and power of the internet, can seed distrust into the hearts of the many about the wanderers.
As a child, I hated pain and needles. Each time, there was vaccination time at school, I would run away, forcing my aunt (who happened to be a nurse) and my mom into the game of "catching Narcis before the disease". With me, the game would usually end up being cornered into a wardrobe, my hands tied, and the shot being dully administered. Back then, I couldn't understand why vaccinations were necessary.
I might have learned something in biology during secondary school about viruses, but the knowledge went over my head. The pandemic caught me with a very basic understanding of what words like virus and vaccine meant. All I knew was that "virus was bad and the vaccine was good". Then 2020 made sure to give me and everyone else, a crash course on virology.
Unfortunately, the origin of the "crash course" differed for everyone. Some prophets took advantage of the fear of the unknown to create fake narratives, that would create mistrust in the public authorities, scientists, vaccination and even the virus itself. Masters of the "simple language" and connoisseurs of the social media networks, managed to reach further than any official source. This resulted in strong anti-restrictions and anti-vaccination protests around the globe. While being a blessing, the internet has shown its dark side and the dangers it can bring to society.
Vaccine 2.0 – the mRNA technology
In the face of extinction-level danger, humanity has been able to come together and find a solution in record time. Thanks to the scientists' collaboration and the massive amounts poured into research, we discovered a new usage of an already existing technology, mRNA.
Unlike the conventional vaccines which use inactivated viruses, the mRNA vaccine contains a code which tricks the organism to immunize. Despite concerns that it might change our DNA, the vaccine will not reach the cell's nucleus where it resides. The vaccine 2.0 represents a breakthrough for public health.
"Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe." - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General World Health Organization
Vaccination in Denmark
The vaccination campaign in Denmark has caught the eyes of the entire European continent. Less than two weeks since the campaign officially started on 27 December 2020, 2% of the population has already been vaccinated. The highest vaccination rate in the European Union. The ambition is to get everyone vaccinated (that wants to) by summer.
The collaboration between the national government and the 5 regional governments have produced impressive results showing what competent governance can do and made others want to follow suit. As an inhabitant of Denmark (regardless of citizenship), you will receive an e-Boks invitation to get the vaccine according to a calendar already made public. The vaccine is free (and paid for by the European Union).