Vaccines and Science

Most of us are probably really used to the word ‘vaccine’ and have been since our early childhood. We would go with our parents to the health centre and, if you are scared of needles like I was, cry until everything was over. On top of that, the world’s current situation has made things even easier and ‘vaccine’ is a word that nowadays is on everyone’s lips.

Just in case you have your head in the clouds, a vaccine is a substance that prevents a person from getting a disease (or at least that makes you suffer it in a milder way). It usually contains a weaker form of the bacterium, virus or micro-organism that causes that particular disease.

Due to the pandemic we are now going through, one of the phrases I’ve heard the most is: “I wish scientists could find a vaccine. It is our only hope”.

Now we’ve managed to get it, I hear nothing but complaints and doubts about it, even though it is our only way of getting out of this situation. It is easy to understand, given that usually a vaccine production process takes years or even decades, as, for example what happened with AIDS. This syndrome was discovered in the early 80’s and until last year nothing about a vaccine had been mentioned for years and we don’t even know if this vaccine will be totally effective until it passes some more tests.

Does the speed of the investigation process affect the quality of the final product? Well, I’m not an expert in this field; just a Biochemistry student, but as far as I know, scientists have followed the same protocol they would have used with any other vaccine. The only difference has been the funds they’ve been provided with. Taking into account that almost all countries have thrown themselves into the search for a vaccine investing a lot of money, we can take for granted it is as effective and safe as a vaccine can be nowadays. 

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that, although investigation requires time, the investment governments make is also a huge limiting factor because, as we can see, scientists can achieve unbelievable goals such as getting a vaccine in less than a year. They just need resources to carry on. 

In my humble opinion, it is really heart-breaking to see not only how Spain can’t compete against other countries in this field, but also all the talent that is being wasted. As a result, it is not surprising that nowadays more and more young scientists are leaving our country in order to find better work conditions. 

It is not a secret that life expectancy and quality of life have increased greatly during the last few decades and a really important factor that has led to that is the improvement of hygiene methods and scientific and medical discoveries. Thanks to investigation, a lot of illnesses have been totally eradicated, but as we all know, a lot more are suddenly appearing and this can only be dealt with if we drive reforms in science.

Paula Cadenas Garrido

Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Murcia