Covid-19: vaccines, distrust and lives

(Steven Cornfield: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariana Santos Alencastro Figueiredo and Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeiro, two second year medical students from  Universidade Tiradentes, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Smallpox. Black Plague. Tuberculosis. Spanish flu. COVID-19. History has recorded the presence of global epidemics since the mid-500’s, and for a long time the only alternative that existed in the fight against viruses and bacteria was based on stopping contamination by restricting contacts and hunting for probable transmission agents. However, the evolution of science allowed the discovery of vaccines, revolutionizing the methods of protection against future epidemics. Based on this concept, scientists have run out of time since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to offer a safe and effective vaccine to the population. Now that it exists, however, challenges such as fake news and the anti-vaccine movement may jeopardize the fight against Sars-CoV-2.

Fake news has been a worldwide reality lately, but in times of pandemic, overtaken by a feeling of uncertainty, many people have become susceptible to believing and trusting any information without checking for reliability. Thanks to the great incentive and unity in search of the vaccine for COVID-19, the emergency use of some immunizers came out in record time -10 months – which opened space for suspicions and the creation of fake news, such as alleged unproven adverse reactions or that data from the vaccine testing phases were manipulated. In desperate despair over the end of the pandemic, searches for quick solutions grew at a dizzying rate, as did the belief that drugs like hydroxychloroquine would be a cure for the disease. The consequence was expected: self-medication and growing negation.

Another huge consequence of this fake news is the creation of the anti-vaccine movement. This movement, which emerged in 1998 with a misleading publication in the scientific journal Lancet on the triple viral vaccine causing autism, persists today using the same arguments from false information. Today, 23 years later, this hitherto small group of those who believe in non-vaccination gained more strength during the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic. Thus, even with all the research and advances in the development of the vaccine, the newest challenge against this disease is to convince all individuals to vaccinate.

Finally, it is clear that once the major milestone of promoting vaccination has been achieved in record time, science now needs to overcome the virus of disinformation and denialism in the search for a definitive resolution to the pandemic. It is, therefore, evident the increasing importance of the role of doctors, scientists and health professionals in educating the population and in promoting comprehensive health around the world. Thus, vaccines will become linked only to life and no longer to distrust.


1- Autism and vaccination -the current evidence Autismo e vacinação -a evidência atual. J Spec Pediatr Nurs [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2021 Jan 24];8(4):166–72. Available from:

2- bbcnews. Gráfico mostra tempo que humanidade levou para criar vacinas e recorde para covid-19 – BBC News Brasil [Internet]. BBC News Brasil. BBC News Brasil; 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 24]. Available from:

3- Corrêa MCDV, Vilarinho L, Barroso WBG. Controvérsias em torno do uso experimental da cloroquina / hidroxicloroquina contra a Covid-19: “no magic bullet.” Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 24];30(2). Available from:

4- Pandemias na História: o que há de semelhante e de novo na Covid-19 – Sanar Medicina [Internet]. Sanar | Medicina. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 24]. Available from:

5- Ponte G. Vacinas: as origens, a importância e os novos debates sobre seu uso [Internet]. Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz || Inovação em saúde || Vacinas, kits para diagnósticos e biofármacos. 2016 [cited 2021 Jan 24]. Available from:

About the author

Mariana Santos Alencastro Figueiredo and Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeiroare second year medical students from  Universidade Tiradentes, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Ukrainian civil war: Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Syria: UN Humanitarian Coordinator calls for unimpeded access from within the country

Zimbabwe facing man-made starvation, says UN expert

Take-home pay growing at lowest level since 2008, as gender-gap persists: UN labour agency

European Youth, quo vadis?

Parliament votes reform for better European Co2 market but critics want it sooner than later

‘Pioneering’ former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially appointed new UN human rights chief

The EU will always have a stable partner in Montenegro, says President Đukanović

Statement by the European Commission following the extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee

Our healthcare systems are ailing. Here’s how to make them better

China has announced ambitious plans to cut single-use plastic

Canada grants asylum for Saudi teen who fled family: UNHCR

The experience economy is booming, but it must benefit everyone

Mobile technology: health in your hands

Draghi strives to control the unruly exploitation of financial markets by banking leviathans

Boardroom warriors: how CEOs are becoming champions of change

China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

Where EU air pollution is deadliest

MEPs demand Bulgaria’s and Romania’s swift accession to Schengen area

European banking stress tests 2014: A more adverse approach for a shorter banking sector

5 lessons for social entrepreneurs on how to change the system

Hostilities in Syria’s southwest, mean cuts in vital aid across Jordanian border: Senior UN official

Human trafficking, slavery reports and health of migrants in Libya

The ECB must extend its money stimulus beyond 2018: Draghi reckoning

The role of junior entrepreneurs as a bridge between academia and business world

Air pollution: How to end the deaths of 7 million people per year

How the world can ‘reset’ itself after COVID-19 – according to these experts

Top envoy to Yemen praises ‘flexibility’ of chief negotiators as new UN mission chief is named

The priority for workplaces in the new normal? Wellbeing

Traffic congestion cost the US economy nearly $87 billion in 2018

A Valentine’s Special: giving back, a dialogue of love

Great Reset: Why LGBT+ inclusion is the secret to cities’ post-pandemic success

‘Dire consequences’ for a million children in the Middle East, North Africa, as funding dwindles

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

Millions denied citizenship due to ideas of national, ethnic or racial ‘purity’: UN rights expert

European Parliament backs CO2 emissions cuts for trucks

The hazards of “heroism” in the time of COVID-19

UN chief appoints Luis Alfonso de Alba as Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit

Tsipras doesn’t seem to have learned his “almost Grexit” lesson and Greece faces again financial and political dead end

Financial services: Commission sets out its equivalence policy with non-EU countries

In The Bahamas, Guterres sees impact of ‘Category Hell’ hurricane, ‘powered by climate change’

Health Education, is it a necessity?

This farmer is saving the jungle by growing food in it

This company grows crops inside, stacked on top of one another

Finnish Council Presidency priorities debated in plenary

Anti-vaccination movement affecting youth in Europe

College meeting: European Commission reorganises the “Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom” into the “Service for the EU-UK Agreements”.

Here’s what travelling could be like after COVID-19

Antarctica: the final coronavirus-free frontier. But will it stay that way?

Impressions of China

London wants new skyscrapers to protect cyclists from wind tunnels

A staggering one-in-three women, experience physical, sexual abuse

To keep track of the SDGs, we need a data revolution

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

EU Summit’s major takeaway: a handkerchief cannot save Greece from austerity

German heavy artillery against Brussels and Paris

ECB’s Draghi favours a cheaper euro to serve all Eurozone countries

The EU Parliament unanimously rejects Commission’s ideas about ‘seeds’

ECB intervenes to clean May’s and Schäuble’s mess

2030 development agenda: Major breakthrough for world of work

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s