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Mythbusters: Curious theories about vaccination vs. science

Health

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Vaccination is almost the lead topic for discussion on social networks and various public places (even in queues). It’s amazing what, it would seem, grown people who are able to think sensibly and analyze say.

Probably, a huge problem is that a significant part of the population is not yet used to doing elementary fact-checking, relying and completely trusting fake facts heard from friends and incompetent specialists. I spent enough time in lines, parks and other crowded places and heard a lot of curious myths, and then decided to check out the most interesting ones.

Some, of course, were completely absurd (probably only the laziest did not hear about towers and reptilians), while others may even have a scientific implication. Let's figure it out.

Myth 1: COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer and alter human DNA

It is not true.

It would probably be rather strange if the idea of DNA were true. Indeed, according to the proponents of this theory, many vaccinated people should have already become mutants, who would clearly have seen signs of a change in the structure of DNA. The falseness of this statement is easily confirmed by geneticists, and to figure this out, it is enough to understand how vaccines can affect the body.

Very rare viruses can indeed (but not significantly) affect DNA. In this they are "helped" by special binding proteins, which, when ingested, are separated from the mother cell of the virus and do their job. These include, for example, the infamous HIV (immunodeficiency virus).

As for coronaviruses, along with adenoviruses, they are the simplest in structure, despite the seriousness of the treatment and the complexity of the disease course. It is these viruses that provoke colds, and also cause certain symptoms in the form of a cough or runny nose. At the same time, they do not have proteins in their composition, and that means that they simply cannot attach to human DNA, and even more so change it.

Digressing into the subject of vaccination, both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA-based vaccines. However, for example, Bryn Boslett, an expert in infectious diseases who leads the work on vaccinations at the University of California, assures that they are not dangerous to human DNA.

The fact that vaccines are formulated on the basis of mRNA means only that they contain matrix ribonucleic acid. After being injected into the body, such acid is absorbed by the cells, but does not get into their nucleus, where the DNA is contained.

The mRNA contains "instructions" for recognizing and developing an immune response to spike proteins, and that subsequently helps to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Quote"Ribonucleic acid carries only temporary information. After creating the spike proteins, your body breaks it down so that it doesn't linger in it. It doesn't mix with any genetic code. It doesn't get into the DNA," Boslett reassures.

As for the link between vaccines and cancer, the opinion of doctors is unanimous: none of the currently existing vaccines is impacting the emergence of cancer and the growth of neoplasms. Moreover, doctors strongly recommend a full course of vaccination for cancer patients, since they are at risk (especially in the case of oncology of the respiratory system). At the same time, doctors note that the only problem that can be encountered is possible inaccuracies in antigen tests due to oncology.

Myth 2. The vaccine causes severe allergic reactions

And this is partly true.

It is worth considering that allergists identify an extremely small percentage of people in whom vaccine components can cause severe allergic consequences. However, you should be ready for anything, and that is why doctors recommend staying at the vaccination centre for half an hour after vaccination in order to get quick and qualified help in case of a sudden attack.

As for the minor allergic symptoms (slight swelling of the extremities, itching or rashes on the skin), allergists call them absolutely normal and advise to stop them with standard antihistamines. By the way, the doctors also do not recommend stopping taking one’s usual medications at the time of vaccination (for example, for people with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases).

Myth 3. Vaccines serve to infertility in men and women

It is not true.

To date, vaccine trials have shown that none of them have a direct effect on childbearing and fertility. Having conducted studies in the control groups of men and women, reproductive specialists did not reveal any changes in sperm and eggs. As for pregnant women, it is recommended to rely on the lifestyle of each individual patient.

Vaccination should be done if the woman or her family is constantly among large numbers of people and the risk of infection is much more likely than the risk from vaccination. Pregnant women can safely vaccinate with Comirnaty/Pfizer (available on request at Mass Vaccination Centers for seniors or patients with indications—The Page) that is currently showing the best results in relevant trials. Breastfeeding women can also be vaccinated but with limitations. AstraZeneca, Comirnaty, and Pfizer/BioNTech are recommended for them. Speaking of Pfizer…

Myth 4: Bust is filling out due to Pfizer vaccine

It's true (funny how the most controversial myth turns out to be true).

Because of this vaccine, the bust does indeed slightly fill out, but only for a few days and certainly not to a striking size. The thing is that a virus, getting into the body in any form (even in a vaccine), causes an immune response. The body accordingly triggers defense mechanisms aimed to notify its owner of a viral attack (for example, headache and fever).

One of these mechanisms is lymphatitis. The lymph nodes are concentrated in different parts of the body, for example, in the neck, as well as in the armpits (that is, in the immediate vicinity of the mammary glands).

The vaccine stimulates the body to show symptoms of the disease, and that causes lymphatitis and the bust enlarges accordingly. Interestingly, men may experience a similar reaction to the vaccine, but in the form of swelling of the scrotum or prostate.

Myth 5. Vaccinated people do not need to wear masks

It is not true.

Both vaccinated and people recovered from covid should definitely wear masks, and it's not even a matter of respect for the law. After being vaccinated or after being ill, you can only protect yourself, but you can still be a carrier of the disease. By the way, immunologists also say that the vaccine will not completely protect you from the disease itself, but it will definitely not allow a severe course and death.

Regarding those who have had coronavirus and acquired antibodies, then, probably, many already know that these antibodies have a "shelf life" and also effectively protect their carrier from only one strain of the virus, while more and more new ones are being discovered in the world. Vaccines are regularly tested for effectiveness against various strains and are constantly being improved.

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