By Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily
My friend asked: Which is the best vaccine?
I asked him back: What kind of woman is the best?
He asked: What has woman got to do with vaccine?
I answered: The best woman or man is the one beside you, not the one you are yearning for but can't get.
I continued: The best vaccine is the one injected into your body, not the one you're waiting for.
What I was trying to say is that there are plenty of men and women in this world, as there are plenty of vaccines. True love is someone willing to spend his/her entire life with you, but for vaccine, you don't actually have to be too picky.
Unfortunately many do not seem to understand this and have been too insistent.
There are currently three types of vaccines available in this country: Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Members of the public, meanwhile, can be divided into one of the following categories based on their preferences for vaccines:
1. Those who insist on Pfizer
2. Those who prefer Sinovac
3. Either Pfizer or Sinovac but no AZ
4. Anything will do so long as I get to be vaccinated
Three out of the four categories above resist AZ.
After opt-in vaccination has been withdrawn and AZ is now included in the national immunization program, some people in Perak protested after discovering that their aged parents were given AZ jabs.
As if that is not enough, politicians have come to their rescue, accusing the authorities of trying to conceal the truth from the people for administering AZ vaccine to the people without they wanting it.
That was by no means an isolated case but more of a stereotyped impression among Malaysians. Many cried foul after finding out at the vaccination center that they would be given AZ, and were excessively delighted if they were given something else.
That I call "vaccine discrimination". Malaysians in general have a strong resistance against any form of discrimination, but many are themselves discriminating against certain types of vaccines!
What has AZ done to deserve such a treatment? It has been approved by the WHO and is the most widely used in this world (in 175 countries, as opposed to 104 for Pfizer and 30 for Sinovac). And it is almost wholly because of AZ that the UK has finally managed to sort of free itself from the scourge of the coronavirus.
Unfortunately in Malaysia, and some other countries for that matter, people are treating it like trash.
Sure enough they have been put off by disputes over the vaccine's blood clot side effect.
According to a Goethe University of Frankfurt study, the delivery mechanism could have been responsible for the blood clot problem. DNA gene sequence of the virus' spike protein is sent directly into the nucleus of the cell, not the cytosol, producing on very rare occasions blood clots with low levels of platelets that may result in death in the most serious cases.
It doesn't really matter whether you understand how this happens. The scientists will get to solve the problem, but for the people in the street, what is important is that it is "rare", at about four instances per every million injections.
Luckily with hundreds of thousands of AZ vaccine doses already administered in this country, we have yet to come across a single case of this blood clot side effect (touch wood!).
And in Taiwan, out of some 800,000 AZ doses administered so far, there's only one confirmed blood clot case (another yet to be confirmed), and the patient is now doing well after prompt treatment has been given.
We cannot rule out the possibility of blood clot side effect from the AZ vaccine, but given the very rare occurrence and heightened alertness among the people, any adverse effect will be treated instantly.
I always tell those receiving the AZ vaccine that the probability of blood clot is extremely low but this doesn't mean it won't happen at all. The thing is, we need to be constantly alert.
According to a report by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control, blood clots could form four to 28 days after the vaccination, and among the symptoms are severe headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty, chest pain, continuous stomachache, etc.
Visit a hospital to seek treatment immediately once such symptoms show up.
We need to make it very clear that side effects are possible whichever vaccine we take, not just AZ.
The only solution to defeat the virus is the vaccine that could even stop the mutant variants.
The virus will never choose its host, and we therefore should not choose the vaccine.
The best vaccine is the one injected into our body!