Scientists, Doctors Use TikTok To Spread Word On COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Meet the scientists and doctors of TikTok — vaccine experts from around the world who are using the social media platform in creative ways to counter the spread of misinformation and educate the public about why the COVID-19 vaccine safety despite the astounding speed with which it was developed.

Scientists, doctors use TikTok to spread word on COVID-19 vaccine safety

Set to hip-hop soundtracks and other catchy tunes, complete with snappy takes in big bold fonts and loud graphics, these short video clips — often less than 30 seconds — are not your typical social media influencer videos.

Meet the scientists and doctors of TikTok — vaccine experts from around the world who are using the social media platform in creative ways to counter the spread of misinformation and educate the public about why the COVID-19 vaccine safety despite the astounding speed with which it was developed.

With more than 65 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and counting, it has been a devastating year globally. Canada alone surpassed more than 400,000 cases this week. Hopes for a return some semblance of normalcy are pinned on the vaccines currently, or soon to be, under review by governments around the world.

With expectations that the first batch could be ready for roll-out in Canada by the start of the new year, about one in five Canadians surveyed say they are unsure if they would get any of the vaccines due to worries about its safety and impact. It’s called vaccine hesitancy; they are not anti-vaxxers, but they do have concerns over what the U.S. government has dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.”

It’s an issue that could derail efforts to end the pandemic, experts say. The medical and scientific community hope their efforts will convince Canadians — and the rest of the world — to get on board.

“No matter how good of a vaccine we have, it’s only as good as it can be taken up. So if we don’t immunize enough of the population, COVID-19 will be in the population long-term,” says Dr. Cora Constantinescu, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with the University of Calgary who also runs a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary that helps address parental concerns.

Anna Blakney is a bioengineer with Imperial College London who is working on a COVID-19 vaccine. She is also part of Team Halo, a group of more than 100 researchers around the world fighting vaccine hesitancy with facts via TikTok and Twitter. Their combined TikTok videos have had more than 24 million views so far. Contributors speak different languages, targeting audiences in different parts of the world.

“I would say my general approach is — come for the entertainment, but stay for the science,” Blakney told CTV News.

“I think it’s great to make science more accessible especially now when there’s so many questions about vaccines and how quickly they’ve been developed this year … people have questions and want to know more, that we just have to be out there and be available to answer those questions.”

Sometimes, it just takes less than nine seconds to run a comparison of the three late stage vaccines set to a video of a dancing doctor.

In one of the longer, more serious videos, Blakney responds to concerns over the speed with which these vaccines are being rolled out. It’s a valid concern, she acknowledges, noting that it generally takes five to 10 years to develop a vaccine. But in the minute-long video, she lays out three reasons why this vaccine is not as “rushed” as it appears.

“No matter what vaccine it is, it has to pass the same regulatory checkpoints to make sure it’s both safe and immunogenic. It doesn’t matter what amount of time it’s been developed for, it has to pass these checkpoints,” she says.

“The vaccine platforms like RNA or protein or viral vectors are platforms, which means they can easily be made for a new indication, which is exactly what we did in January. But all of these platforms have been in development for years already It’s been a group effort. Usually people are working on lots of different types of vaccines, but everyone’s right now just focused on COVID, so it’s been much faster.”

All the vaccines have all gone through clinical trials; the Pfizer vaccine, for example, was tested on more than 43,000 people.

“These are real life researchers, they look like you and me. They’re inspired. They’re very passionate about their work. I think that really creates a reality and honesty about it,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University.

The scientists are not the only ones making an effort to reassure the public. Former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all volunteered to get their COVID-19 vaccine safety on camera to promote public confidence in their safety once they have been approved and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Originally published at Ctv news

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