Just days after COVID-19 found its way into the fabric of British society, medical experts presented a sobering conclusion: This virus would not be going away on its own any time soon.
The government scrambled to slow the spread by locking everything down, and whilst this proved something of a success, scientists continued to warn that the reprieve was only temporary.
Our only route back to normality, we were routinely reminded, was a vaccine.
An arduous nine months followed; littered with mass closures and tier systems enforced by hastily-written legislation.
People were forced to make lifestyle changes and sacrifices like never before, with little else to do but cross our fingers and wait for the cure.
The chimes for 2021 had barely finished ringing out before vaccine sites right around Britain were administering jabs left, right and centre.
Britain, suddenly, had multiple pathways back to the blissful pre-COVID days.
But some people decided they didn’t want to take either.
Recent surveys have revealed that as many as 14% of people would consider refusing the offer of a proven coronavirus jab – believing that fighting off the infection naturally is a better way to combat the illness.
An alarming amount of misinformation has spread across social media as a result – and one doctor has now stepped forward to dispel the myths.
Dr Michael Barnish, Head of Genetics & Nutrition at REVIV Global Ltd – a worldwide health and wellness organisation with a HQ right here in Manchester – explained that he “wanted to share some information on what vaccines are and why people should not be frightened of, or against them.”
In Barnish’s words, vaccines are designed to “generate an immune response” that will protect us from future exposure to a particular disease.
The key concept behind vaccination is herd immunity – whereby if the majority of people have immunity, then the virus or bug cannot infect others easily and will die off easier.
“Vaccination offers the opportunity to eradicate particular diseases across the entire population, protecting the individual and the community,” explains the doctor.
“Vaccination can also help reduce the occurrence of other diseases as well. Children that are routinely vaccinated against meningitis have the added benefit of a reduced risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer.
“Similarly, the measles vaccine actually helps protect from other dangerous infectious diseases, such as rubella and mumps and therefore the vaccinated immunity would be more advantageous than naturally made immunity following this dangerous infection.”
For some, taking vaccines appears to be a no-brainer. But naysayers have argued that jabs can cause side-effects due to the presence of toxins and damaging ingredients in particular solutions.
“Like any medical intervention [vaccines] do have risks,” explains Dr Barnish.
“However, they are usually minor and short lived.”
For Dr Barnish, the greater concern is the misinformation being spread about inoculations.
“Unfortunately, the possibility of side effects, alongside media-fuelled fraudulent research has created a growing population of anti-vaccination people,” he says.
“If current anti-vaccination trends continue, the number of measles cases, this year, will be the highest in decades.
“Vaccines are vigorously tested and most those routinely given have large amounts of safety data over many years.”
There have been occasions in history when vaccines have proven less robust than experts had initially hoped – such as the 2018 flu vaccine turning out to be just 23% effective.
And with the COVID jab being developed at record speeds, some have rushed to the conclusion that the necessary checks might have been skipped; or the vaccine itself could miss the mark.
But Dr Barnish doesn’t think so.
“These are absolutely warranted concerns and I think everyone should question and educate themselves fully when it comes to their health or immunity,” he says.
“However, the laboratories and science institutions of the world collaborating and working together on a vaccination, sharing important findings about the virus with each other on a mass scale, really for the first time, I have every faith that this collaboration and teamwork [has created an] effective and safe vaccination for COVID-19.
“We live in a safety obsessed world and creating vaccines is no exception. A vaccine is only ready when it is deemed safe and effective.”
With the most serious risks – such as severe allergic reactions – apparently being extremely rare, Dr Barnish concludes that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks; claiming they are essential to the wellbeing of the wider world.
The doctor summarises: “Vaccination plays such an important role in the fight against infectious disease with little risk to us as children or adults, whether in early-life, travelling abroad or protecting your body from seasonal flu attacks.
“No vaccination will be given to the population if it causes any harm.
“They are created to help us, not harm us.”
Learn more about the work that Dr Barnish and REVIV do for Manchester by visiting the REVIV website.