The world has been restless for a while now, ever since the news of the arrival of a novel virus was announced. The Sars-CoV-2 disease which plunged the world into a pandemic is caused by a fairly known pathogen, the Coronavirus, whose jarring virulence seems to have left us all astounded as it jumped from the city of Wuhan in China to distant countries in its pursuit to navigate the world.
Riding on the wings that little information was known about this positive-stranded RNA virus, it fazed the science world and propelled scientists to hunt for a solution. Though the progress of this ultimate race for an answer was compounded by the novelty of the virus, nevertheless, it was accelerated by the urgency, high demand, and competition for a provider.
Few months into the search, the breakthrough arrived. The first two wins in the war against the pandemic were noted in November 2020. First, Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical company, together with her German partner, BioNTech, announced its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, which has an efficacy of over 90% in preventing hospitalization and deaths due to the Coronavirus disease. Some days later in the same month, another American company, Moderna, announced her own mRNA-based Coronavirus vaccine, sharing similar technology with Pfizer’s but with different physical properties and efficacy (over 94%).
Later on, in February 2021, Johnson and Johnson, another US-based pharmaceutical giant, announced its Covid-19 vaccine which is based on the AdVac vaccine platform, a technology used previously in the development of her EUA-approved Ebola virus vaccine. Though the ingredients of the vaccine showed to trigger allergic reactions in some persons, the vaccine remained effective in people 18 years and above.
However, the race to redeem the planet via vaccination continued in several other countries, with the announcement of AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, and Sputnik V vaccines in Britain, China, and Russia.
Common conspiracy theories against vaccines
Right from antiquity, we have experienced non-evidence-based assertions by people. These beliefs have boomed in recent years with the vehicular assistance of social media. Conspiracies are not a new thing to the world and are usually due to built-up anxiety about the possible causes of, or reasons for a popular event like an assassination, a pandemic, mass murder, or use of vaccines. There are over 600 Covid-19 vaccine-related conspiracy theories, with more than 95% of them being false. The loss of trust they cause can affect people’s acceptance and adherence to the vaccine protocols, thereby allowing themselves and the environment they are part of to remain avoidably unsafe. Here are few conspiracy theories about vaccine use:
- Vaccines don’t work: This is the most expected conspiracy theory against vaccines, and despite overwhelming evidence in the use of vaccines in the eradication of smallpox, some people still believe that vaccination is a hoax.
- Government installs a microchip in everyone through vaccination: Propagators of this theory believe that micro monitoring devices are placed in individuals in disguise of vaccination.
- The vaccine can rewrite your gene: The Covid-19 vaccine is made from RNA and not DNA, and can not be incorporated into your genes.
- The vaccine can cause the disease and other long-term health complications: Though just as normal drugs, Covid19 vaccines may come with few side effects like pain and fatigue. These benefits by far outweigh these few minor side effects. Also, the vaccines are first tried and examined by the appropriate professional government agencies before approval for use by the general public.
- Bill Gates is responsible for the pandemic: Some conspiracy theorists also came up with this theory, claiming that the whole pandemic has been pre-planned, and the vaccination was a way of deceiving people into getting registered into a centralized database controlled by an evil entity. Bill Gates has over the years through his foundation contributed financially to health-related researches including those on HIV, his benevolence may have however been misconstructed.
- The COVID-19 vaccines can make straight men gay: This theory most likely stemmed from the fact that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are based on mRNA technology, and that the Democrats are trying to leverage it to get more gays (Gay Men tend to vote for the democratic party) and subsequently win more voters, but it is laughable because the vaccine does not alter our genetic materials neither does it have any psychosocial impact on the recipients.
What is mRNA, and how does the mRNA vaccine work
Our nucleus-containing cells have two types of nucleic acids- Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), while the former is responsible for manufacturing the proteins in our body, the latter is mainly responsible for the transfer of genetic codes. Both nucleic acids are made up of 5-Carbon (Pentose) sugar nucleotides as the backbone, a nitrogenous base, and a phosphate group.
The RNA is of 3 types:
- Messenger RNA (mRNA)
- Transfer RNA (tRNA)
- Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
In Humans, the DNA being purely a genetic material is housed in the nucleus and only communicate to other cell organelles via transcription of a set of nucleic acids into a messenger RNA (mRNA) which then moves out of the nucleus to the ribosome in the cytoplasm with the code for a specific protein. The mRNA forms a complementary strand for the tRNAs which carry their specific amino acids into the growing chain of a protein. In this way, the code for protein synthesis in the mRNA is translated.
In mRNA- based pharmaceutical technology, which has also been on trial for use in the treatment of cancer, malaria, and infectious disease vaccines, exogenous nucleotides are used to code for a synthetic mRNA which is then infused into a host’s cell. In the case of Covid-19 mRNA based vaccines which is injected into the muscle of the upper arm, the synthetic mRNA which degenerates after transmitting the information, about 72 hours after the injection, are fashioned to code for the spike protein, a virulent structure found on the outer surface of the natural virus. The body’s immune system will then sense the spike proteins as foreign bodies and mount an immune response against them, producing specific antibodies that are against the spikes, thereby sensitizing the body’s immune system ahead of time in the event of an eventual invasion of the natural organism. In this way, the person’s immune system readily attacks the virus within a shorter duration of time, and with aggression.
Can mRNA vaccines make heterosexual men gay?
Most vaccines are aimed at harmlessly exposing the host to a pathogen, and allowing the body to mount an immune response to it, thereby making you develop immunity against the pathogen as though you have been infected but without having to suffer severe active infection. To achieve this, the conventional vaccine formulations are usually dead or weakened pathogens that are no longer virulent or some part of the pathogen that can be easily identified by the body’s immune system. This is the basis of all vaccines including the Polio vaccine, Human influenza B vaccine, and MMR vaccine for Mumps, Measles, and Rubella. The mRNA Vaccine, though working on the same principle of active immunization, is easier to manufacture, and instructs our body to produce these otherwise exogenous parts of the pathogen.
The mRNA vaccine has no impact on our genetic make-up, neither does it have any psychosocial effect different from that of other vaccines, and therefore can not make straight men gay in the long term. The proponents of this laughable and homophobic conspiracy, which originated from the Middle East, either argue, according to Iranian Islamic cleric and self-proclaimed father of Islamic Medicine- Abbas Tabrizan, that the vaccine contains a microchip that makes the recipient remotely controlled and monitored, hence dictating their sexual orientation from an external source, they cite the remark by Bill Gates about a “digital certificate” and an unrelated technology- the quantum dot dye, also sponsored by Bill Gate, which is aimed at safe and quick access to recipient’s vaccination history or they argue that the mRNA can reversibly be integrated into the DNA of the recipient, thereby realigning his sexual orientation.
An ultra-orthodox Israeli rabbi, Daniel Asor, was also credited to have proclaimed that “Any vaccine made using an embryonic substrate, and they did that here, too, so … it can cause opposite tendencies”, here his opposite tendencies were about the homosexual community. However, just like many of the other conspiracy theories, this once again is unfounded, with no scientific backup, or an iota of truth. The Covid-19 mRNA-based vaccine is neither made using an embryonic substrate, neither does evidence show that vaccines made from embryonic substrate cause sexual realignment thus straight men should not worry about becoming gay.
The arrival of mRNA based technology in the pharmaceutical world have given a glimpse of hope in the quest for a cure against known incurable diseases by safely instructing our bodies to produce its remedy, this has opened the door of a new therapeutic arena, and would inadvertently lead to more discoveries that will send many diseases into extinction. Nevertheless, in order to attain the maximal goal, this nascent and applaudable feat should not be misunderstood in any way, as to ensure a wider acceptance and boost its effectiveness especially in areas with low literacy levels. In no way do Covid-19 mRNA-based vaccines make straight men gay in the long term. Also if you are a republican straight man for god’s sake get vaccinated the democrats are not trying to make you gay. And in the case, you suddenly become gay after vaccination be assured that the COVID-19 vaccines are not the cause!