Addressing some concerns about COVID-19 Vaccines
•Safety •Efficacy and Effectiveness •Side effects •Use of human cell lines •Long term immunity •SARS-CoV-2 mutation variants •Human mutation – grow extra arm? •Mark of the Beast
Addressing some concerns about COVID-19 Vaccines
•Safety •Efficacy and Effectiveness •Side effects •Use of human cell lines •Long term immunity •SARS-CoV-2 mutation variants •Human mutation – grow extra arm? •Mark of the Beast
Some information about the different types of COVID-19 Vaccines
Some Christian considerations on the COVID-19 vaccine. Talk delivered 07 February 2021 to Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church (PJEFC), Malaysia
After almost a year of socio-political disruption caused by the SARS-CoV-2 RNA virus, some vaccines have received emergency approval for use in the vulnerable and general population. Some countries have received and have begun to vaccinate their people, while others are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the vaccines. Christians and Christian faith communities are facing a new dilemma. Should they and the families receive the COVID-19 vaccination? This is not about being anti-vax or vaccine resister. This is about making a choice.
Firstly, helping and protecting the sick, the poor, and the vulnerable has always been part of the Christian mandate. In the past few months, most Christians have been part of the public health program acting to contain the spread of infection and treating the infected by participating in lockdowns, hand washing, social distancing, and wearing face masks. These measures in some countries have managed to control the spread of the infection and prevent healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed. It bought time for health care measures to be put in place. Though not all Christians agree to these measures, by and large, most are involved and some have sacrificed their lives. Christians count among the numerous deaths among the healthcare workers. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination is one of the most effective forms of public health measures and has achieved a drastic lowering of childhood death rate in the last few decades. Smallpox has been eradicated and polio almost. The COVID-19 vaccine should be perceived as something helpful in public health measures in protecting the vulnerable and the community.
Secondly, the rapid development of the vaccine is a testimony to international scientific collaboration and funding. There are four categories of COVID-19 vaccines: (1) Vaccine virus (inactivated virus), (2) Protein-based virus (viral particles), (3) Viral vector vaccines (non-replicating viral vector), and (4) Nucleic Acid Vaccine (RNA vaccine). The first three vaccine types are not unknown and are the reasons for the successful vaccination program in primary healthcare. What most Christians and others are concerned about is the RNA vaccine.
The RNA vaccine is produced by totally new technology. One of the concerns is about the short time in development. Research on vaccines for SARS, H1N1 Influenza, and Ebola is quite advanced for many years. The search for the RNA vaccine did not has to start from scratch. The scientists just used the SARS-CoV-2 virus with existing technology to produce the vaccine. So counting existing templates, the development of the vaccine is a few years, not a few months.
The RNA from the RNA vaccine acts outside the nucleus to produce proteins for the body to react and develop immunity against. The RNA does not enter the nucleus and interacts with the DNA and cause mutations. The RNA degenerates in the body after a few minutes.
The safety and efficacy of the RNA vaccine are yet to be fully established. In the phase 3 trials of a large number of people, so far it is shown to be safe and has remarkable efficacy (more than 95%). These trials are less than 3 months old so data on long term immunity, prevention of spread in the community, and long term safety is not available. Lacking any measures to adequately protect the vulnerable such as those above 60 years old and the frontliners, the RNA vaccine seems to be an acceptable risk.
Thirdly, the distribution cold chain of the RNA vaccine is a major concern. The Pfizer/BioNTech RNA vaccine needs to be stored at -70° C. There a few places on this planet with facilities to store at this temperature. Dry ice does not work. Any temperature above -70°C even for a short time will inactivate RNA rendering the vaccine useless. Unless there is in place the facilities to maintain the cold chain from the manufacturing plants to the distant rural clinics, there are concerns about using this vaccine. Giving people an inactivated vaccine will create a false sense of security and may do more harm than good.
Fourthly, there should be equitable distribution of the vaccine. In the past, high and middle-income countries tend to get the vaccine first before the lower-income countries. COVAX is a consortium of middle and lower-income countries formed to ensure fair distribution of vaccines. It effectiveness remains to be seen as we see already see the rollout of RNA vaccines in the high-income countries but not the low-income ones.
Finally, there are some who teach that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is receiving the Mark of the Beast. There are numerous ways these teachers arrive at this conclusion, least of this is that CORONA is 666, and Bill Gates of Melinda and Gates Foundation has incorporated microchips in the RNA vaccine. In the Book of Revelation in the bible, the Mark of the Lamb (Rev.7:3) preceded the Mark of the Beast. In context, receiving the Mark of the Beast is a conscious choice to turn away from God. It is inconceivable anyone would associate the COVID-19 vaccine with the Mark of the Beast.
Christians are to act well, protect the weak and vulnerable, help the poor, and love their neighbors. The COVID-19 vaccine seems to be a light in a dark COVID year. Christians have one more measure for healthcare and that is prayer. Christians should not neglect the most powerful of these resources. While praying for the vulnerable and concerns about the vaccine, Christians should also consider whether they will choose to be vaccinated and if so, with which vaccine. Furthermore, churches should be considering getting vaccines for the poor and vulnerable in their communities if their government is not providing the vaccine free.
MCO Day 3 Telling the Truth
Luke 8:17 – For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
My respect and heart go to the frontline troopers in this war against the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the nurses, doctors, radiographers, nursing assistants, clerks, cleaners, and all others who stand in the frontline, defending us from the infection. It is a tense and stressful calling. We never know if or when we may become infected in spite of the numerous layers of protective layers we wear. The N95 masks are really uncomfortable. The face shield cumbersome. And the constant fear- whether we become infected or worse, we infect our loved ones. I can still remember the days of SARS where the moment I reached home, I would make a beeline for the bathroom to change out of the hospital scrubs, scrub and wash myself, and wear clean clothes before I hug and kiss my wife and children. The fear combined with the long hours were exhausting and spirit draining. Now 18 years later, I am called upon to fight another virus, SARS-CoV-2. I am in solidarity with the younger doctors who are in the direct line of fire.
It is one thing to treat an infection, it is worse when your patients lie to you. Any important fact we need to know is whether the patient was involved in a religious or political gathering where there are infected persons, or in close contact with an infected person. Knowing this information will help the medical team protect themselves and their management of the condition.
But some patients always lie. It is standard for us to ask these risk questions but they will lie. The doctors then proceed with the treatment and somewhere along the way the truth will come out. Either from the spouse or relatives. This places the whole medical team at risk. The team will have to be screened and quarantined. Some team members will become infected and may die from the virus. I always wondered how some people be so selfish. There are limited numbers of doctors and medical teams.
I wish sincerely that patients will tell the truth. When we treat patients, there is a unique bond formed. Discovering the lies later, I feel so betrayed. So please, if you have a history of overseas travel to infected countries, taking part in a religious conference or service, and suspect you have been exposed to the virus, tell us. TELL THE TRUTH, Do not hide the facts until it is too late. Don’t be responsible for the death of a young promising doctor because if your lies.
Psalm 57:1 (NIV)
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
Today, at the stroke of midnight 18 March 2020, Malaysia closed its borders in an effort to contain the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The Movement Control Order mandates the closing of two busy land borders with Singapore and Thailand. The Causeway and Second Link were the site of chaos as thousands made their way to Singapore before the deadline. Some were Singaporeans but most were Malaysians who are working to Singapore. The Order is for 14 days so these were expecting to be separated from their families for this period at least. After this date, Malaysia will not admit anyone from other countries. Malaysians will be admitted and immediately placed into 14 days quarantine. These draconian measures are necessary as the Malaysian government struggles to contain the wildfire of COVID-19 which has claimed 2 lives, with 673 infected persons. In the two months since the world has become aware of this new virus, SARS-CoV 2, it has created havoc in the world especially in China, South Korea, and Iran. It is presently ravaging Italy and the rest of Europe, killing and infecting thousands of people.
Malaysia and Singapore have a strong shared history. In fact, at one time, they were one political entity. Political, economically and relationally, there is a strong bond between them. Many Malaysians and Singaporeans have relatives in both countries and the family bond is strong. People travel between these two countries in huge numbers daily. So it was not an easy decision for the Malaysian government to impose a partial lockdown of the house country. This is the first time since world war two it was closed. It was indeed a historic day. The aim was to keep everyone at home to prevent the spread of the disease while healthcare workers identify, track, and treat the infected persons. It involves the shutdown of all businesses except for those providing essential services. It requires the population not to travel but self-distance or self-isolate until the virus dies out or its spread plateau. It was a drastic measure for a dire situation.
The social project of this scale requires the active participation of the Malaysian people. It cannot depend on punitive punishment from the police or army to force people to act. No doubt it will involve a change of lifestyle. It will be destructive for all businesses especially the small ones. The people are called to have a long view and to sacrifice for the short gains. If the virus is not contained, it is estimated that it will infect 60% of the population of Malaysia and kill thousands of people. Those at the highest risk will be the elderly and those with lower immunity such as diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, people on dialysis, and other chronic illnesses.
Today, we closed our borders in the hope that the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia will be contained. We call on all Malaysians to be united in this fight for our survival. A pandemic running wild will cause chaos. We ask for prayers for this endeavour for our national survival.
May God has mercy on us.
18 March 2020
Don’t Balik Kampung (Go home to your village)
The Movement Control Order or Mass Travel Restriction in Malaysia comes into force tomorrow. The Restriction seems to be limited to international Border travel and not domestic ones. The Order also involves the closing of all business premises except those that offer essential services. This sudden two-week unexpected off work or school may seem like a holiday similar to the Hari Raya Puasa or Chinese New Year holidays. IT IS NOT! This is a desperate measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We are in an emergency situation.
To this end, the Government has decided to implement the Movement Control Order, from March 18, 2020, the day after March 31, 2020, throughout the country. This control order is made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967. This Movement Control Order includes;
First, the general prohibition of mass movements and gatherings across the country including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. To enforce this prohibition, all houses of worship and business premises must be closed except for supermarkets, public markets, convenience stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities. Specifically for Muslims, the adjournment of all religious activities in mosques and mosques including Friday prayers is in line with the decision of the Special Mental Health Committee meeting on March 15, 2020.
Secondly, the sanctions cover all Malaysians traveling abroad. For those who have just returned from overseas, they are required to undergo a health check and to do a quarantine (or self quarantine) for 14 days;
Third, restrictions on the entry of all tourists and foreign visitors into the country;
Fourth, closure of all kindergartens, government and private schools including daily schools, boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centers and other primary, secondary and pre-university institutions;
Fifth, the closure of all public and private higher education institutions (IPTs) and skills training institutes nationwide; and
Sixth, the closure of all government and private premises except those involved in essential services (water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire, prison, port, airport, safety, defense, cleaning, retail and food supply.
Malaysians love to travel and this may seem like our festival period and so may be tempted to go back to our hometown or balik kampung. Please reconsider. You or your family or friends may be infected with the virus or are carriers (there are still a lot we do not know about this virus. Are children carriers?). If you balik kampung now, you may be spreading the virus and placing your elderly loved ones at risk. So think twice before you pack up your car and go.
If you are reaching or have reached your kampung/parent’s house/family, self-quarantine for 7 days even if you do not have any symptoms or contact with infected people
– stay in your room and do not come out
– have your food placed outside your door
– use separate bowls, plates
– wash eating utensils with hot water
– wash your clothes separately
– use a separate toilet
Do not spread COVID-19 to your loved ones. The elderly are at very high risk.
Why We Should Stop Meeting Together
Why should Christians stop meeting together during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic? Do we lack faith that God will protect us? Did God not promise his protection in Psalm 91:5-6? More and more churches are suspending their church service and other meetings in order to avoid the spread of SARS CoV 2 virus (COVID-19) during the current worldwide pandemic. Many are instead streaming their church service online, or have a link to other online platforms to provide their members, encouragement, connection and the Word of God through the sermon. The meeting together physically is an important part of the Christian church tradition. We meet together for koinonia, prayer, worship, and edification. Even in times of extreme persecution, the Church had always tried to meet together secretly in spite of the danger. So why should we not have a physical face to face meeting now? Why should we try to cancel all physical events?
First, it is not a lack of faith in God, when churches suspend their physical meeting together. It is having faith in a God who created rational human beings so that they will behave rationally. Yes, God has promised his protection. Do we then step off a 10-story building and trust God to send his angels to catch us before we go splat?
Psalm 91:11–12 (NIV)
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Is this about our faith or our pride? The devil suggested the same to Jesus when he tempted Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:5-7). Here the devil brought Jesus to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus (yes, the devil knows the Scriptures well too). If you are who you say you are, jump and have the faith that God will send his angels to cushion your fall. Jesus’ response is instructive. Jesus said we are not to test God, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
Deuteronomy 6:16 (NIV)
16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.
This issue here, as Jesus was aware, is not about faith but testing God. In Massah, the Israelites argued with Moses about the lack of water, with Moses rebuking the Israelites for testing God. It is because of this lack of faith and disobedience that Psalm 95:8-10 stated that the Moses generation will not see the Promised Land but be condemned to wander in the desert for forty years until they are all dead. So when we question each other about faith or lack of faith, we have to be sure it is not a desire to test God. Underlying our question about faith maybe our desire to test God and see if he will keep his word. The suspension of meeting together is not a lack of faith but an act of worship to God.
Second, social distancing is found to be an effective way to limit the spread of this infectious new coronavirus. This virus can only live in human beings and is spread from one human to another by droplets (coughing) and contact (included contaminated tables, chairs). The virus spread easily when groups of people come together and one of them is infected. When the infected person is identified quickly and treated (there is no effective treatment, just supportive), the virus dies and cannot spread. Stopping the human to human spread will stop the pandemic. Hence, the need to cancel all public gatherings where people come together. This is called social distancing and it is our social responsibility to enact it. It is to protect one another especially those over 65 years old who are especially at risk to die from this virus.
Another effect of social distancing is that it slows the spread of the coronavirus. If too many people are infected and become sick at the same time, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed such as is happening in Italy and Iran now, and what had happened in China.
This week will be the school holidays for Malaysia and Singapore. It is hoped that parents will take note of the following:
This social responsibility is our act of worship to love our neighbors.
The decision to cancel or suspend face to face church activities is a responsible response to the coronavirus pandemic. Churches must find different ways to connect with their congregations online. The technology to do so is already available. We continue to pray that the pandemic will be over soon and we can resume our traditional services.
Gave a talk on how to survive clinical school to some medical students.
The main points are
There is a state of fear in people of many countries which are far from the epicentre of the 2019 nCoV epidemic in Wuhan and Hebei provincial, China. Even though there are only a handful of patients in their countries, and most of these patients have been to the epicentre, or being in contact with people from there, the state of fear of being infected by the coronavirus is extremely high. People scan the news media frequently (sometimes every few minutes) to see the latest tally of infected cases and death as one will follow the Olympics medals tally. Fear is visceral and irrational. One will rather believe the latest rumour or fake news than follow reputable websites or official announcements. Fear leads to mass hysteria, like hoarding of food, and of toilet papers!
To deal with our fear of the outbreak, let us ask ourselves a few questions.
Firstly, what are the facts? The virus outbreak started in January 2020 and have 44,730 infected confirmed cases in China and 45,171 worldwide (including China). The coronavirus now named COVID-19 are associated with the death of 1,114 people (only 1 death outside China). [WHO 12 Feb 2020]. It is a contagious disease which transmits by droplets and contact but not by aerosol. It must be noted that after a month there are about 45 thousand cases among 1.6 billion people. The majority of people who were infected had mild symptoms like, fever, cough, and runny nose. Some have abdominal pain and diarrhoea. This is common to any virus infection. Only about 2.4% died from respiratory complications. The majority of death occurs among the elderly with other medical ailments such as diabetes, kidney failure, heart conditions, and lung problems. All but one of these deaths occur in China itself. Not exactly a pandemic (WHO is reluctant to label it an epidemic), a worldwide outbreak. And, not exactly, an end of the world scenario. People are not dying in the streets. Why the fear?
Secondly, can we control the event? Obviously not. An epidemic that is happening thousands of miles away is way beyond our control. Even the China health authorities and WHO cannot control the outbreak. What they are doing is trying to contain the outbreak and they are doing a good job in this. The China authorities worked hard in quarantine a city (something no one had done before), limiting travel, building quarantine hospitals (within 10 days!), and sharing information. This is a new virus and by sharing the newly sequenced genome, the Chinese scientists have enabled the rest of the world to quickly work to understand the virus and to create a vaccine.
Thirdly, can we do anything about it? Again, no. What we can do in our little part of the world is to maintain our personal hygiene and trust our own healthcare services to do their job.
Finally, if we have do not control over, and we cannot do anything about the outbreak, then what we do with our fear? We can submit to our fear of the outbreak and live in a constant state of stress. Or we can submit to the One who is in control and can act on the situation. Jesus gave us some good advice in Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV)
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Why do we worry over things we have no control over, and cannot do anything about? That irrational worry is fear. The choice then is ours. We can choose to submit to Fear or to submit to Him who has overcome fear. How shall we live our lives in this time of a coronavirus outbreak?
updated: 10am 13 Feb 2020