UG virologist on COVID-19 vaccination in Fakty po Faktach

prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska - Szewczyk

Prof. dr hab. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk, virologist from the Department of Molecular Biology of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and GUMed was a guest on Monday's edition of Fakty po Faktach. The topic of the conversation was vaccination against COVID-19.

Decision on vaccination: emotions replaced scientific knowledge

Prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk, a virologist from the University of Gdańsk, was asked by a TVN 24 journalist what lessons we should draw from the incident in Grodzisk Mazowiecki (where a scuffle took place in front of one of the vaccination centres):

- The decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate is no longer influenced by any rational reasons, bad emotions take over and these are never a good advisor or a basis for any decision', said prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk. - I would like to refer to what the Speaker, Tomasz Grodzki, said about the poliovirus and the terrible disease of the 1950s and 1960s, which most people do not remember, but to which we have all been vaccinated and there are still those among us who have suffered from it. I've been teaching about viruses for many years, teaching about how when the polio vaccines started people fought over them. There were fights like the one we are seeing now in Grodzisk, but they had a completely different background - thousands of people were queuing for the vaccine because they were so terribly afraid of the disease.

The virus is unpredictable

As a virologist from UG stresses, there is no reaction to the flood of information appearing on the Internet from anti-vaccinationists, meanwhile, the virus does not sleep, and in addition, is unpredictable.

- From my experience as a virologist I can say that the virus is unpredictable. When we grow viruses in the laboratory, we see that they do various things which are completely beyond our expectations, e.g. they can penetrate cells they had no right to get into. Wherever the virus multiplies to very large numbers, and this is the situation now with the Delta variant, we can, unfortunately, expect surprises. It is therefore a risky decision to contract the infection rather than prevent it through vaccination.

Authorities and the fight against false information

Prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk is of the opinion that public authorities should speak about the necessity of vaccination.

- Decisions should be made at the administrative level. In my opinion, compulsory vaccination should be administered to the health service, all employees of care homes and educational establishments in which we work with children. Vaccinations should be part of the examinations included in health certificates. Vaccination should be introduced gradually and sensibly in places where it is very important, that is to say, where unvaccinated people can easily pass on the infection to others.

- It is also worth correcting the false information circulating that vaccinated people can still transmit infections. It should be emphasised that the probability of this is very, very small - adds a virologist from the UG.

Intensification of vaccinations

According to prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk we do not have too much time to intensify the vaccination action.

- Vaccines work very well, but unfortunately not immediately, we can't vaccinate one day and be safely immune the next, for this to happen it has to be several weeks. Also, two doses definitely work better. That is why we really do not have much time, given that September will soon be here and the children will be back at school. I hope that the next wave of infections will not be as devastating as the previous one, because we have already lost very, very many people in Poland due to this disease.

Data (as of July 27, 2021) from the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Infection Report and COVID-19 Vaccination Report prepared by the Ministry of Health:

  • Since the beginning of the epidemic in Poland, 2 882 327 people have been infected with coronavirus, a total of 75 249 infected patients have died
  • To date, a total of 33,843,941 vaccinations against COVID-19 have been performed
  • The number of fully vaccinated persons is 17,040,924
  • In Pomeranian voivodship, a total of 2,220,987 vaccinations were performed
EMW / Press Office UG