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Opinion: Letter to the Namibian nation

2021-07-06  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Letter to the Namibian nation
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It is truly a sad moment we are currently in as a country. 

We need to deepen our connection to our creator, our God of Africans. 

Too many lives are being snatched away by this Covid-19 disease and in a very short space of time. We just do not know how long this will be, given the rapidly mutating and spreading virus in our country and communities. 

We just have to each do our best to pull through by sticking to basics.

But I wish to give my view on the issues of vaccination for those who were already infected with SARS COV-2 virus and perhaps a word or two regarding the different types of available vaccines.

Firstly, we must accept the fact that not all is known about this virus yet. 

As a matter of fact, what we know could be less than what we do not know about this virus specifically its behaviour.

We are all still in lecture halls being schooled by the virus and this includes academics, clinicians and researchers.

Secondly, no one really knows what the long term effect of all available vaccines are as all of them have been just recently approved (on emergency basis ) and commissioned for clinical applications. 

What is, however, known thus far is the very fact that these vaccines prevent severe Covid-19 illness and prevent death as a result of SARS Cov-2 infection. 

This much is known beyond any reasonable doubt . We also know that if a person has previously been infected with this virus, such a person builds up immunity (antibodies ) against the virus.

This is true of all viral infections though. 

It has now been documented that such antibodies are protective against severe Covid-19 illness and death.

This much we know.

It has been further documented that these protective antibodies (immunity) lasts at least between three to six months.

This is why it is advisable that anyone who has been infected with COV 2 should stay for three to six months before he/she can be vaccinated if such a person wish to be vaccinated. 

This is the current scientific and medical view and advice.

We must, however, accept the fact that we are dealing with a very fast moving target here.

Thus what is considered best knowledge, advice and practice today may be disposed off in a matter of weeks or even days. 

We need to keep this in mind at all material time.

On the issues of vaccine safety and efficacy, at least on the two vaccines that are available in Namibia, I have been asked to air my view so many times and by so many people and organisations lately. 

I had advised many people that we had more information on the AZ vaccine and less on the one from Sinopharm.

This was before WHO approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.

Consequently, I was inclined to advise that perhaps its better to take a vaccine that one has more information about and thus know what to expect and what side effects and associated risks are.

But then we started getting reports of side effects from those who took AZ jab even though for a relatively mild and of short duration of time. 

Interestingly, however, many people who took the Sinopharm vaccine, including hundreds of healthcare workers, hardly reported any side effect so far.

I took some time to try and figure out (theoretically) what this possibly relates to and I still do not fully comprehend this and I believe many of my fellow healthcare professionals and indeed medical academics are still grappling with the same question.

I am of the view that the AZ-related side effects are most likely related to the fact that this is a vector vaccine, the development and component of which consists of elaborate genetic manipulations of two different and unrelated viruses. 

This consists of extraction of a gene from SARS COV 2 Genome which codes for its surface (spike) protein and insert that gene into the genome of an adenovirus (from Chimpanzee). 

A self replicating gene from the Adenovirus is then artificially deleted to prevent the adenovirus from replicating itself and only produce the SARS COV-2 spike proteins while in our bodies. 

This process uses human cells (specifically the ribosomes) as its manufacturing factory and there are so many intra cellular and intracellular steps and proteins (enzymes ) involved in its many convoluted steps and processes. 

This is in stark contrast with the Sinopharm vaccines which are based on simply capturing a live SARS COV-2 virus, cripple or attenuate it to prevent it from multiplying in your body, then package it into a vaccine dose. 

This is a simpler and near natural process which has been used for many vaccines developments over the years, including the polio vaccines which has its success in eliminating polio on planet earth recently.

Obviously, nothing is without drawbacks. 

We are fully aware of Vaccine Derived Paralytic Polio (VDPP), but in the end, Polio has been eliminated from our planet as I am typing this post.

So what then is my current view and possible inclinations and advice regarding currently available vaccines in Namibia (AZ & Sinopharm).

I tend to lean more towards the Sinopharm vaccine at the moment.

First for now having sufficient data supporting its safety and efficacy (which by the way has been above that of AZ) and perhaps more importantly, for the fact that it (Sinopharm) provides you with a less genetically manipulated or interfered with dose. 

Gene manipulations and anything related to it has never been that easy and is often prone to errors simply because of its delicacies and intricacies. 

The contents of Sinopharm closely resembles the natural virus in the wild (wild type virus) which in my view, has less potentially confusing issues for our body immune system unlike the AZ one which contains genes from both Adenovirus and SARS COV-2.

Our immune systems, as clever and sophisticated as it is, still has many strong elements of primitively and can easily be confused by presented substrates.

We see this in many autoimmune conditions such as Fibromyalgia and Rheumatic Heart Disease where your own immune system builds up antibodies against your own body parts such a those on your heart valves that lead to destruction of those valve which culminates in Rheumatic Heart Diseae (RHD).

Who knows and can ever say that with time and with different gene components in the AZ vaccines, that our immune system shall never build up antibodies against our own cell components such as ribosome which can have profound consequences than the actual Covid-19 disease?

Let us all seek an answer to this question which I believe is valid.

2021-07-06  Staff Reporter

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