WATCH: Health Experts Address COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy


Microchips, DNA alteration, allergic reactions and herd immunity are just a few topics that were discussed at WE-SPARK's Vaccine Hesitancy Webinar Friday.

Statistics Canada reports less than 60 per cent of Canadians are confident in the current messenger RNA vaccines. Unlike typical vaccines, the mRNA vaccine does not contain a live virus; it contains instructions to create proteins that are delivered to cells in lipid nanoparticles.

Those "tiny oil bubbles" protect the fragile RNA so it can get to immune cells to teach them how to make the protein COVID-19 uses to attach to a cell — those cells will then have the ablity to fight off the infection.

Five experts, including stem cell scientist Dr. Phillip Karpowicz dispelled some common myths surrounding the vaccines.

Karpowicz says mRNA does not affect or interact with a person's DNA. 

"This mRNA is actually a temporary code that's actually taken from DNA and used to make a building block," he says. "RNA is actually very unstable and disappears very quickly in the environment and also from our body."

Dr. John Trant is a bioorganic chemist at the University of Windsor.

Trant says cold is the preservative being used for most mRNA vaccines, so outside of the RNA payload, they contain oils, salts and sugar.

"What the sugar does, is makes sure that we're not freezing these compounds," he says. "When you freeze them, the inside of that RNA is protected and doesn't get damaged by ice crystals."

As for the idea the vaccine contains microchips, Trant says, "I'd be super happy if I could make a microchip small enough to get into one of these things, but it's not currently possible."

Dr. Wajid Ahmed says people forget how many viruses vaccines keep at bay while they push for herd immunity without a true understanding of what it means.

"When people are not seeing what we are preventing, some of them feel that we don't need those vaccines," he says. "We always need these vaccines unless we completely get rid of all of these circulating viruses and bacteria from this world. We haven't done that with the exception of small pox."

The Medical Officer of Health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says more than 70 per cent of people will need to become immune to COVID-19 for herd immunity to work and that's not going to happen without a vaccine.

For the most part, the panelist agreed mRNA vaccines have displayed common side effects, soreness at the injections site, with mild fever and headache.

Ahmed says people with allergies should consult their primary care physician if they have any concerns.

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