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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 medications are a boon, but don’t replace vaccines

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 vaccines are still more important than medications. (via USC / Merck / southernnevadahealthdistrict)
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The good news of several new anti-viral pills that have shown to be effective in greatly reducing Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths, coupled with statistically rare vaccine side effects or deaths that some people latch onto, may tempt many to skip getting vaccinated and rely solely on medication once they get infected. But a Thai expert on crisis communication with the University of Southern California’s Centre on Public Diplomacy, Silada “Lydia” Rojratanakiat, warns that Covid-19 fighting medications are not a replacement for vaccines.

Thailand is rushing to get Merck’s new Molnupiravir treatment and Pfizer’s Paxlovid Covid-19 pills, medications that could substantially help ease the severely overburdened healthcare system in the country. Molnupiravir messes up the genetic code of the Covid-19 virus and can halve the risk of hospitalisation or death. Paxlovid blocks the Covid-19’s ability to replicate, stopping up to 90% of severe symptoms and death if treated early. Plus, unlike vaccines and other treatment options, there are no needles, no need to be administered by medical professionals.

In an editorial for the National News Bureau, she wrote that anti-viral medications like this play a vital role in Thailand’s recovery, allowing people infected the best likelihood of survival and safety. But it is just one tool in the Covid-19 battle toolbox that helps mitigate the negative side effects of reopening the borders, and vaccination of as much of the population as possible is crucial.

Vaccines are an effective and affordable prevention tool that works to completely eliminate or at least contain Covid-19 in people’s bodies while creating natural antibodies. A vaccinated person will most likely experience exponentially less illness and death. In short, Covid-19 anti-viral pills are a treatment for an affliction you’ve already got, while vaccines are a preventative measure. Think of it like getting a cast for your broken arm after a car accident versus an airbag deploying and preventing your injury in the first place.

Prevention should take precedence over treatment. While these new medications will reduce hospital time, easing the burden on hospital staff, equipment and facilities, vaccination is much more effective at keeping people from entering hospitals in the first place.

With global conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns, many people are avoiding vaccines, some even claiming they don’t trust scientists or treatments approved only for emergency use. But these Covid-19 medications were developed by scientists in the same way and are receiving the same emergency approval only. If you trust the medications scientists are creating to treat Covid-19, you should trust the vaccines scientists developed to avoid Covid-19 in the first place.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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