By now I'm sure that you have already had one, two, or possibly even more conversations with family and friends about the rapidly approaching wave of COVID-19 vaccinations that are about to inoculate the world. Without a doubt, and I believe inarguably at this point, this will be the most dominating news headline as we head into 2021 and throughout the year.
The rollout of this vaccine, its success rate, and the ability for officials around the world to convince a large enough percentage of the population to take it are all contributing factors in how the global economy for next year will be defined.
The question is, how will it all play out?
The COVID-19 Debate Rages On
On one side, you have a large percentage of the population anxiously awaiting the rollout of the vaccine, with the majority of governments eager to get their hands on as many doses as they can, as quickly as possible.
On the other side, you have a smaller, but still very significant, percentage of the population who are questioning the COVID-19 vaccine—from the rapidity of its development to what the long term effects may be.
I am not here to argue either side. However, it is undeniable that this debate is only in its early days and will rapidly become the "hot" topic of 2021, one which is sure to divide many friends and family members.
Those on the "anti" COVID-19 vaccine side are not just anti-vaxxers in general. Approximately 40% of the American population expresses some form of reluctance to get the vaccine.
Obviously, those who are deemed anti-vaxxers in general naturally fall into this group. However, many prominent figures, including ones who are typically pro vaccine, have stepped forth to argue against it.
One of the most recent to join these ranks is Kyler Kemper, the half-brother of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The National Post reports:
“Kemper said there remains a ‘gigantic divide’ in the scientific community over the COVID response. ‘Vaccine manufacturers are exempt from liability. That scares me. There are so many ways we can improve our immune systems to counter coronavirus. The sun gives us vitamin D and it’s great for the immune system. But Justin and the public health officials don’t tell people to get outside and get vitamin D,’ he said.
“Kemper said ‘the global health dictatorship’ has imposed a response that has ultimately made people less healthy, with rising levels of suicide and depression, as well as ‘obliterating’ small businesses such as the seven restaurants his family runs in Ottawa.
“‘It does not warrant all this hype and mania and doesn’t necessitate an experimental vaccine being rushed to market,’ he said.”
Some of the points Kemper makes are ones you have heard throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic: that there are worrisome ramifications to the lockdowns, such as higher rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide.
Meanwhile, those who are in favor of the lockdowns state that without them, COVID-19 would be an even more severe problem than it already is, with a magnitude more lives lost due to the pandemic running unchecked.
Hindsight is 2020, as they say.
Additionally, it is true that an ungodly amount of resources have been dedicated to developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine, with over 200 companies working day and night to discover an effective treatment.
This has resulted in a discovery rate that would typically take years to uncover in a standard vaccine clinical study, meaning that in all likelihood the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by many countries in the West are deemed safe, at least in the short term.
Vaccine Manufacturers Will Not be Held Accountable for Long Term Effects?
Even though companies can guarantee that the vaccines are safe in the short term, they cannot state definitively that they are safe in the long term.
This is the major sticking point for many people around the world who are reluctant to take it immediately. Even the companies themselves have made governments sign off on liability protection against COVID-19 vaccine related injuries.
As stated in the New England Journal of Medicine:
"Equally important is offering companies protection against potentially substantial liability should Covid-19 vaccines cause real or perceived injuries to recipients. Manufacturers won’t agree to procurement contracts or ship vaccines without liability protection.
“According to an AstraZeneca executive, for example, in the company’s bilateral contracts, it has been granted protection against legal claims arising from the use of its vaccine products, since it ‘cannot take the risk’ of liability."
Ironically, a statement out of Australia was just released today indicating that one of their COVID-19 vaccine trials would have to be stopped, as a number of participants received false positives for HIV after being inoculated.
“The Australian government has canceled further development of a COVID-19 vaccine after several trial participants had false positive tests for HIV. The vaccine was being developed by the University of Queensland, while Australian biotech company CSL Limited had been under contract to provide 51 million doses. The vaccine had been on schedule for mid-2021, with phase two and three clinical trials due to commence in December.
"‘Our processes will not be compromised. At the end of the day, the Therapeutic Goods Administration – like with any vaccine in Australia – must give their tick-off. Without the tick, there’s no jab when it comes to vaccines in this country. That is true for the Covid-19 vaccine, as it is true for any other vaccine that is administered here in Australia,’ Morrison added.”
On the one hand, this should be considered good news— things may be rushed, but at least checks and balances are still being applied. The safety of the vaccine is paramount, as a botched rollout would have long lasting negative effects on the vaccine industry for decades to come.
I believe that this debate will rage on well into 2021, with many armchair doctors rising up to do battle against one another over family dinners for months to come.
Regardless of which side of the debate you stand on, you cannot deny the fact that a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine that is accepted in the hearts and minds of the majority of the world’s population is paramount to the health of the global economy in 2021.
Without it, it is unlikely that government officials will lift all of the lockdown restrictions that have utterly killed the travel industry and so many other sectors of the economy.
Sadly, it appears that 2021 is set to be yet another turbulent year, continuing the trend set in 2020.
Until then, stay safe and as always, keep stacking.