Along with the development of vaccines against the novel coronavirus, information about their negative impact on human health began to circulate on social networks and the media.
The Fact Investigation Platform tried to compare the risks that a vaccine can have and the possible effects of COVID-19 on human health.
What effect does COVID-19 have on human health?
Although most patients recover within a few weeks of being infected with COVID-19, many experience long-term health consequences. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people may have several symptoms in the period following the recovery from COVID-19, including fatigue, cough, headache, menstrual cycle changes, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can last for several months.
According to Nature scientific journal, 80% of COVID-19 patients have 50 long-term symptoms. The five most common symptoms are fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention deficit disorder (27%), hair loss (25%) and shortness of breath (24%).
However, COVID-19 also has more serious effects on several organs. According to the Mayo Institute, it primarily affects the lungs.
The type of pneumonia that is often associated with COVID-19 can cause long-term damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. Scar tissue caused by the disease can lead to long-term breathing problems.
Tests performed months after recovering from COVID-19 showed a heart muscle damage even in people with mild COVID-19 symptoms. This can further increase the risk of heart failure or other related complications.
COVID-19 can cause strokes and seizures even in young people. It can also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Months after the outbreak, many doctors began to report that patients developed kidney problems during and after coronavirus infection. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, kidney problems can bother people infected with COVID-19 months after recovery, and in some patients, the coronavirus can lead to lifelong impaired kidney function.
Side effects of vaccines
Just like in the case of medications, vaccines have side effects. After being administered the vaccine, the person may have headaches, high fever, muscle aches and fatigue, as well as pain, redness, swelling at the injection site (the arm). These symptoms typically go away in a few days.
Allergic reactions to vaccines
The WHO guideline states that people who have had allergic reactions to medications, especially those used in COVID-19 vaccines, should consult their physicians before getting the vaccine.
It should be noted that the decree of the Minister of Health, which came into force on October 15, clearly states that the vaccines are absolutely contraindicated in case of a serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis (widespread urticaria, wheezing, swelling of the mouth and throat, shortness of breath, hypotension, shock) from the previous dose or any component of the vaccine. In these cases, the next dose is not administered. Therefore, people with such a history should not be vaccinated.
Blood clots: The effect of AstraZeneca and COVID-19
Blood clotting cases reported in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine have caused a great deal of controversy around the world. However, it is little known that people are more likely to develop blood clots after being infected with COVID-19.
According to research from John Hopkins Institute, COVID-19 can cause a large number of blood clots. Blood clots form in the lungs, legs, and other parts of the body.
Blood clots can cause a heart attack if they block the blood supply to the heart, and a stroke if the oxygen supply to the brain is disrupted. Blood clots developed in 30-70% of COVID patients in the Netherlands and France.
Discussions about blood clots formed after receiving the AstaZeneca vaccine began in March 2021, when its use was temporarily suspended in a number of countries. After some time, however, its widespread use continued, and now this vaccine is used in 121 countries.
Researchers have found that among 10 million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca, there were 66 cases of blood clotting in the veins and 7 in the brain. It is noteworthy that in the case of COVID-19 infection, 12,614 cases of blood clotting were reported in the veins and 20 in the brain. According to British researchers, every fifth person infected with the disease develops blood clots in the body.
Vaccines, unlike coronavirus, do not cause infertility
One of the most common public concerns about vaccines is their association with human reproductive health. But even in this case, research studies by leading institutions and government agencies show that vaccines do not pose a danger to reproductive health, while the disease, i.e. COVID-19 itself, can have very negative consequences. You can read more about the topic in this article prepared by the Fact Investigation Platform.
Effects of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines on the heart
In October 2021, Sweden and Denmark suspended the use of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 among young people due to its effects on the cardiovascular system.
However, it is noteworthy that studies in different countries have found a very rare effect on the heart muscle not only after vaccination with Moderna, but also with Pfizer.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention informed about the side effects of these two RNA-based vaccines in June 2021. According to the center, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) occurred after vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna, especially in male adolescents and young people (more often after the second dose). In most cases, people recover quickly after treatment.
Two major studies in Israel have shown that myocarditis is very rare after vaccination with Pfizer. Studies show that this problem is more common in adolescent boys and young men. However, in most cases, the inflammation is very mild and heals quickly.
In the first study, only 136 of the 5 million people vaccinated with Pfizer developed myocarditis. According to the second study, only 54 cases of myocarditis were registered among 2.5 million people.
According to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, relatively more myocarditis cases are registered after the administration of the Moderna vaccine (compared to Pfizer). Therefore, people under the age of 30 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine. It is noteworthy that this decision is valid until December 1, after which it may be reconsidered.
Effects of COVID-19 on the heart
The effects of the vaccine on the heart are generally short-lived, while COVID-19 can have long-term severe consequences.
According to the American John Hopkins Institute, COVID-19 can damage the heart muscle and affect heart function.
Studies have shown that COVID-19 can affect the heart of those who are hospitalized, those who have a mild course of the disease, and have no previous cardiovascular problems. These heart problems can persist for a long time after recovery, regardless of the course of the disease.
To sum up, the effects of COVID-19 on human health are still being studied, but scientists and health organizations around the world agree that the dangers posed by COVID-19 are far greater than those posed by the vaccines.