Science Communication as Key to Overcome the Pandemic

We recently caught up with 2018 Lindau Alumna Nataly Naser Al Deen, now at Washington University in St. Louis, and talked about being vaccinated against COVID-19, the situation in the US and Lebanon and why science communication is an integral part in the fight against the pandemic. 

Nataly in a black shirt getting the vaccination from a person in scrubs
Photo curtesy of Nataly Naser Al Deen

What are your arguments pro vaccination for people who are afraid of being vaccinated?

If we take a step back one year ago, everybody was expecting that science could be magical and that the vaccine could be out within weeks after the pandemic hit. So scientists had to explain that it normally takes a decade to develop a vaccine. Now that several vaccines are out and have been approved for emergency use, people are skeptical and are afraid that it went so fast. But in fact, these vaccine studies went through very rigorous trials, like the usual phases it takes. It got emergency proved by the entities and it was examined in great detail. You must see the situation we are in: Normally it takes ten years because there are not enough volunteers, we do not have the funding that fast etc. – as it is not as urgent as in a pandemic. These vaccines went through the usual clinical trial phases and were tested for safety and efficacy before getting emergency approved, and research will still be done to prove safety for years to come, and we are already learning more about them.

Also, the technologies for the mRNA vaccines, for example, have been developed for many years now and have been proven to be safe to administer to humans. These existing technologies made the process faster. A convincing number of people has been involved in the trials (tens of thousands). The mRNA does not integrate in the genome, it is not going to alter our DNA. The vaccine will not make us sick with COVID-19 and it will educate our immune system to detect and eliminate the virus once we are exposed to it. It is important to explain these facts to the public in understandable words to alleviate fears, which is part of our duty as researchers and scientists.

Find the full interview on our blog

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