As the country works through the coronavirus pandemic – notably Victoria hitting that all-important 28-day of zero cases mark, meaning the virus has been medically eliminated from the community – the conversation is now being dominated by COVID vaccine chat. And if you’ve opened up any of your doomscrolling apps lately, a lot of that conversation is people chucking their two cents in on the matter, especially in Facebook comments.

Earlier this week, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said that anyone wanting to fly when international travel kicks back in will need to have proof of having a COVID-19 vaccine done before boarding, which effectively kicked the hornet’s nest of anti-vaxxers who probably love a cheeky jaunt to Bali a couple of times a year.

Our Facebook comments section on the story wasn’t immune to this hot COVID-19 debate either, with plenty of people coming out of the woodwork as sudden experts on immunology and vaccine testing to share their thoughts.

So, we decided to take those comments straight to the actual experts to debunk ’em.

Dr Hassan Vally is an epidemiologist over at LaTrobe University, with expertise and experience in infectious diseases, so I shot him over a bunch of actual comments from our Facebook to set the record straight on things like vaccine development and testing.

“Herd immunity is the phenomenon whereby when a certain proportion of the population is immune to a disease, the disease doesn’t spread easily,” Dr Hassan said.

“It’s dependent on the infectiousness of the disease. For COVID-19 it is estimated that about 60-70% of the population would need to be immune to reach this threshold. So if a vaccine is 90% effective you would need approximately 68-80% coverage.”

“It’s really important to ask questions about anything that you do and then look at what the evidence says,” Dr Hassan said.

“We know enough about this virus to know that it is highly infectious and that it has the potential to cause serious illness and death, especially in certain groups of people. So we can’t ignore it.

“The vaccines are being developed really quickly due to the huge amounts of resources put into their development and the cooperation that is occurring at a level we have not seen before. As far as safety and efficacy, these vaccines are being required to satisfy all of the criteria that any other vaccine would have to before being administered to the public.”

It is true that we haven’t been able to find a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, which in fact points to what a fantastic achievement it will be if any of the vaccines are found to be safe and effective,” he said.

“It is a mistake to conflate the very different technical challenges of finding a vaccine for HIV/AIDS – which infects the immune cells of the body, and finding a cure for cancer, with the immediate challenge of finding a vaccine for a coronavirus.

“We should celebrate what has been able to be achieved this year.”

“It is likely that all airlines and all countries will require proof that a person is free of covid or immune before being allowed to enter a country,” Dr Hassan said.

This question makes no sense, so I can’t answer this one.”

So there you go, the experts have weighed in on COVID vaccine comments on PEDESTRAN.TV’s Facebook. And look, if anything it’s some very good fact ammo to have when you see your probbo relatives over the holidays, right?

Image: Signs / Touchstone Pictures