Jonathan Schwab: Why science is so important

Published: 1/12/2021 11:13:49 AM

As a medical professional, I would like to respond to a letter written by Chris Riddle printed in the Gazette on Dec. 30. (“Has COVID vaccine been oversold?”) Mr. Riddle asks if the COVID-19 vaccine is being “oversold” since people who receive it might still be able to carry the virus and spread it, even though their chances of illness and death are significantly reduced.

The answer to his question is a resounding no. It is true that the current vaccines approved by the FDA have not been proven to eliminate asymptomatic spread of the virus, but the key word here is proven. To prove something, you have to have data to show it is true, and the first round of studies were not designed to prove that question.

Current studies are underway that are designed to answer that question by looking at viral load of people who receive the vaccine, rather than looking at symptomatic disease. Although I think it is likely that the vaccines will reduce the asymptomatic infection and therefore the spread, I cannot be certain because we don’t have that proof yet.

Other vaccines reduce both infection and spread, but you cannot just assume that this one will be the same. This is why science is so important. Medical professionals do not want to say something is true just because they want it to be true or they think it is going to be true. We must prove it through studies before we make those types of statements. Even if the vaccine does not turn out to completely prevent spread of this virus, it will reduce the deaths, significant illnesses, hospitalizations, and the huge drain on our health care delivery systems.

Even if it is just to save yourself, I would encourage everyone to get a vaccination when the opportunity arrives. And no, I am not trying to sell anything.

Jonathan Schwab, MD

Medical Director Northampton Area Pediatrics

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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