Following several months of research by laboratories around the world to find a vaccine to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, we might finally be in reach of salvation. But that wasn't taking into account the new, different strains from South Africa, Japan, Brazil, and even from the shores of Great Britain.
Several vaccines have already been developed, notably those of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca, but there are a plethora of others already in distribution or currently being tested.
A massive vaccination campaign
The British vaccination campaign began over a month ago—the UK was the first country to authorise these new vaccines. Many other countries reported difficulties in their own campaigns. Spain, for example, announced the start of a nationwide registry to keep track of those not yet inoculated, and France began their campaign at a snail's pace.
And everywhere, citizens have no intention to be vaccinated. Whose fault? Rumours about the Pfizer vaccine. According to the most pernicious, the vaccine was apparently not tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women. Some even point out a supposed sterility risk, with no well-founded argument, because of a natural hormone present in the vaccine: syncytin.
Vaccines: in between fear and mistrust
Worse, German doctor Wolfgang Wodarg even started a petition was regarding this subject, melding together the fears of women of childbearing age. However, these accusations are not based on any substantiated evidence.
In fact, several media have decided to delve into the subject once and for all, including Fact Fox. They investigated and demonstrated that this fear was unfounded. Likewise, scientists such as Marion Kiechle, director of the Gynaecological Clinic at the Technical University of Munich, comments:
There is no scientific evidence in this regard, nor even the slightest indication that currently approved vaccines have a negative effect on female fertility.
The BioNTech laboratory also made a statement in which they point out that there is no data to confirm that the vaccine would lead to infertility.
Similarly, academics have spoken on the subject. Annette Beck-Sickinger, professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany, points out:
If the syncytin argument were true, every single woman infected with the virus would therefore have become infertile, but this is not the case.
Still, behind these fears can in truth lie a real mistrust of the vaccine itself. Indeed, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the total English speaking crowd for the so-called anti-vaxxers online has grown significantly in the past year and now stands at 59 million followers.