Compulsory vaccination: opinions of virologists differ

Compulsory vaccination: opinions of virologists differ
Compulsory vaccination: opinions of virologists differ
9 November 2021, 17:36Science
The statement of Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Laboratory of the Institute of Molecular Biology Pyotr Chumakov on the need for compulsory vaccination has already hit the TOP of world news, causing a huge resonance in Russia and abroad.

Journalist Irina Mishina tried to understand the problem.

Irina Mishina

Academician Chumakov's statement made a lot of noise. He has already been accused of violating international law and the Nuremberg Code. It all started when the famous molecular biologist told Radio Russia that he supported the idea of compulsory vaccination of all citizens against coronavirus.

“This is very unpopular, of course, what I will say, but I believe that there should be compulsory vaccination. They can simply crucify me there. But I think that in the name of these people who are now resisting, they will thank them later if they are forced to do it", - Radio Russia quotes Chumakov as saying.

We contacted Pyotr Mikhailovich and asked to clarify what he meant.

“You cannot be forced to vaccinate. The talk about vaccination came in connection with the refusal of vaccinations by 26 doctors of the Jewish Autonomous Region. I said that we do not know all the details, and in the context of this situation it is necessary to understand. As of today, an emergency regime has not been introduced in Russia, so there are no legal grounds for compulsory vaccination yet. The decision on compulsory vaccination must be made only at the state level and not otherwise. It's not a flu shot - it's a national security issue. In my opinion, the time is ripe for the adoption of such emergency measures at the state level, and we are talking about special legislative acts. Now the first person in our country says publicly that vaccination is a private matter for everyone. This is no longer a personal matter, because we are talking about millions of deaths, and it is time to take emergency measures at the state level. Here the question is: either the country will survive or not. Yes, I am for the compulsory vaccination, but it is necessary to approach this issue with great analysis and intelligence. If a person has a medical challenge, it must be approved by a committee of professionals, and this person must be protected from contact. In China today, 80% of the population is vaccinated, but there are also taps, which are given by the medical board. Not vaccinated and not been ill isolate according to the rules", - Corresponding Member of RAS, the Head of the Laboratory of the Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences Pyotr Chumakov told Novye Izvestia.

According to him, the authorities themselves are to blame for the situation. There is flirting, populism. If there is a mortal threat - well, talk about it, why half-measures and shifting responsibility to the citizens themselves and to doctors? There are situations when painful measures must be taken for the benefit of people. A surgeon, for example, when he performs an operation, cuts out appendicitis, he does not ask anyone's permission. Actually, this was already the case in our country when the smallpox epidemic began. Only thanks to the isolation of contact and mass vaccination of about 10 million people, the smallpox epidemic in the country was stopped. Yes, they identified contacts, went home, and forcibly vaccinated them. But the epidemic was defeated in the shortest possible time and with minimal losses. Now this is the case, says Pyotr Chumakov.

It's worth reminding: the situation with the smallpox epidemic in the USSR and the fight against it went down in history due to the fact that unprecedented measures were taken at the state level. Then, at the end of 1959, 53-year-old artist, twice Stalin Prize winner Alexei Kokorekin returned from a trip to India. 2 weeks before the trip, Kokorekin, according to his confession, bribed the doctor, gave him one hundred rubles and received a fake vaccination certificate. During a tour of India, he attended the burning of a deceased Brahmin, and then participated in the sale of the deceased's belongings, where he acquired a carpet. Upon returning to Moscow, the artist was greeted by his wife, daughter from his first marriage and an acquaintance driving a car. Very soon, Kokorekin's health deteriorated sharply, and he was hospitalized in the Botkin hospital, in a ward with influenza patients. Despite the treatment, the artist died a few days later. And then the worst thing began - a series of diseases and deaths of those who had contact with him.

Doctors approached the issue responsibly, and soon, literally 2 weeks after the artist's death, Academician Morozov discovered smallpox virus particles under a microscope at the Research Institute of Serums. Botkin hospital was quarantined along with all patients and medical workers. To supply it, trucks with the necessary products and materials were sent from the mobilization storage facilities of the State Reserve. Moscow was also quarantined, canceling rail and air links; blocked all the roads. Around the clock, medical teams traveled to the addresses of the identified contacts of the patient, taking the probable carriers of smallpox to infectious diseases hospitals. For vaccination, 26,963 health workers were mobilized, more than 3 thousand vaccination points were opened, and 8.5 thousand vaccination teams were organized.

As a result, 5,559,670 Muscovites and more than 4 million residents of the Moscow region were vaccinated in less than a month . This has become an unprecedented action in the world to vaccinate the population, both in scale and in terms of time. But its result justified the harsh means: from the moment the infection was brought to Moscow until the outbreak was eliminated, only 44 days passed. Moreover, from the beginning of mass vaccination to its complete stop - only 19 days. As a result of the outbreak, 45 people fell ill with smallpox, of whom only three died. But the smallpox epidemic in the country was defeated.

“In the 19th century, people were generally shackled and forcibly injected with a smallpox vaccine to prevent an epidemic, there have been such cases in history. And I agree with Academician Chumakov that urgent emergency measures are needed at the state level. A pandemic is like a war and wartime laws apply", - recalls Anatoly Altstein, MD, professor, virologist.

Vaccination today is the only way to get out of the pandemic with minimal losses, says Anatoly Altstein. Without mass vaccination, we will continue to lose loved ones. I think the authorities will take this path: they will make the life of the vaccinated as convenient as possible. Unvaccinated people will have to face a lot of inconveniences.

In all fairness, we must admit that today there are disagreements in the medical community about the need for vaccination. Most importantly, there are no definitive results from the clinical trial of the Sputnik V vaccine. To date, the third phase of tests of the same "Sputnik V" has not been published. There is no compulsory vaccination in the law: while vaccination against coronavirus is not included in the vaccination schedule. The lack of confidence in vaccination is partly due to the fact that the WHO has not yet approved Sputnik.

“As far as I know, WHO representatives are now checking all the sites where Sputnik is produced. There are only 7 of them. In Ufa, shortcomings in the production of the vaccine were revealed, there were quite a lot of them. The fact is that modern requirements for the production of vaccines are quite high. Russia began to implement GMP standards accepted all over the world only from the beginning of the century. Now the flaws are being finalized. But in other countries, vaccines were also used for "cutting sharp corners", they turned a blind eye to shortcomings. And we shouldn't discount the fact that if Sputnik is recognized, international pharmaceutical companies will have to make room. But today we are not dependent on the import of vaccines, and this is a huge plus”, - says Professor, Doctor of Medical Sciences Anatoly Altstein.

“Let's call a spade a spade: the recognition of our vaccine at the international level is largely a commercial issue”, - believes Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Pyotr Chumakov. - According to the existing rules, it is necessary to certify many stages of vaccine production, this is a long procedure. At the Ufa plant, the production conditions were not fully met. But all currently active vaccines - both American and European - were introduced urgently, with a number of shortcomings. Some were allowed to do this, some were not. This is already a political question”.

Another logical question arises: recently, vaccination is gaining momentum, but at the same time, mortality is also growing. What are the reasons?

“The vaccination campaign really started with us around September. It takes a month and a half to develop immunity to Covid-19 after vaccination. Not all of them have passed this term yet. Do not discount the large number of people who bought vaccination certificates. Now it is being revealed that entire city hospitals in some regions were selling counterfeit certificates, and we will hear, I think, about these criminal cases”, - says virologist Yevgeny Timakov.

“When less than 40% of the population is vaccinated, there is no need to talk about a decrease in mortality”, - says virologist, professor Anatoly Altshtein. - And let's be honest: even the best vaccine will not give 100% effect. Especially when it comes to the delta strain. But medicine has already established that vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease by 4-5 times and prevents death. In Europe, where the percentage of vaccinations is much higher than in Russia, the mortality rate is correspondingly lower than in our country. Israel can be considered a model state, where most of the population is vaccinated. In any case, people after 60 are vaccinated there en masse, more than 90% of them. And it is in this age category that the mortality rate is significantly lower. In general, the mortality rate in massively vaccinated Israel is 0.3%. This is the official statistics".

What measures the state will propose to prevent the catastrophe remains a mystery. It is obvious that today federal structures are shifting all responsibility to regional structures, and regional authorities - to specific hospitals. And this mechanism, according to scientists, no longer works.

“To begin with, the information campaign is not being conducted correctly. We intimidate people every day with a huge number of deaths, we have creepy videos on television about the fate of those who have not been vaccinated. It would be more effective if they talked every day about who and how the vaccine protected. Publish already at last the real figures of mortality among vaccinated and unvaccinated - here is all the propaganda for you", - says Professor Anatoly Altshtein.

But there are other points of view:

“There can be no compulsory vaccination. This violates the Constitution of the country. In my opinion, first it is necessary to adjust the mechanism of vaccination: to explain how much the vaccine works, how exactly it works, to find out and publish a significant number of antibodies for revaccination. In children, I would not include the coronavirus vaccine in the calendar of mandatory vaccinations: the vaccine has not been tested on a large number of children, and besides, many children tolerate Covid-19 asymptomatically. Consequently, they have already been ill and acquired immunity. That is, the question of population immunity in a child's environment can be raised. For example, people who have had whooping cough are not vaccinated against this disease”, - says virologist, pediatrician Yevgeny Timakov.

So far, scientists agree on one thing: the state does not have a single well-thought-out program to combat coronavirus.

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