SARS-CoV-2 Emerges in Cell Culture

COVID Vaccines: More to Like, the More We Learn

Familiarity can breed contempt or it can bring comfort. A new position statement about COVID-19 vaccines from the Obesity Society brings us comfort. In fact, the more we learn about these COVID vaccines, the more we like. They work well – even in people with obesity and other risk factors. What’s more, the effect on daily life has been nothing short of amazing – so long as people get their vaccines.

Yes, They Work Amazingly Well

The Obesity Society comes right to the point:

“These vaccines are highly efficacious, and their efficacy is not significantly different in people with and without obesity.”

This stands in sharp contrast to speculation published before anyone had clinical data on these vaccines. People who should have known better called it “a major concern,” despite the lack of data at the time. Reporters for Kaiser Health News promoted fears that “the obese” might “undermine the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine.” That kind of speculation fits with implicit bias that people with obesity are problematic. But it doesn’t meet a standard for journalistic or scientific objectivity.

Back in the real world, we are learning that these vaccines are “even more amazing than you think,” as the Motley Fool writes. Cases are down dramatically in the U.S. – especially where vaccination rates are strong. Though people worry about variants, so far these vaccines are offering good protection.

Speculation and Political Poison

Experience with COVID vaccines is helping us learn more than just how much we like such amazing innovation. It is also helping us understand problems with speculation and political poison creeping into matters of science and health.

Speculation is not inherently bad – so long as it’s not presented as a matter of fact. Wondering how well these vaccines will work in the presence of obesity is a fine thing. But when a scientist tells the world there’s “no way” it will work well – before there’s any clinical data – it’s wrong and it’s harmful.

Furthermore, it feeds into the political poison that’s getting in the way of vaccination. Many fragments of speculation get dressed up as if they are facts to rationalize vaccine hesitancy.

We don’t need this. We need to persist with vaccination so that we can all thrive in a post-COVID world.

Click here and here for more on the Obesity Society’s position statement. For more on how politics are poisoning the drive to protect people from COVID, click here.

SARS-CoV-2 Emerges in Cell Culture, scanning electron microscope image by NIAID / flickr

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July 9, 2021