The Philippine Embassy in Madrid hosted a webinar to discuss Covid-19 vaccines, featuring two vaccine researchers from Barcelona. The event was live-streamed on the Embassy’s official Facebook page, and included a real-time Q&A session with the panelists that answered questions from the viewers and their concerns about Covid-19 vaccines.
One of the featured speakers was Dr. Felipe Garcia, a professor at the University of Barcelona and infectious diseases specialist who serves concurrently as the project coordinator for Covid-19 vaccines at the Hospital Clinic Barcelona, overseeing clinical trials for the Janssen Pharmaceutica vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). Dr. Garcia is a public intellectual noted for his HIV-AIDS research, and has appeared on numerous news programs in Spain.
The second panelist was Dr. Garcia’s colleague, Dr. Jocelyn Nava, a Filipina doctor and member of the Colegio de Medicos de Barcelona. Dr. Nava works as clinical trial sub-investigator at the Clinical Investigation Unit of the Hospital Clinic Barcelona. The webinar was co-hosted and moderated by Consul Mikhal de Dios and Dr. Raphael Angelo Gonzalez, a Filipino physician based in Madrid.
Dr. Garcia and Dr. Nava allayed public concerns about vaccines in general, noting that vaccines are the most important tool humans have developed in the past century to improve public health. They also touched on the effectiveness of the new mRNA vaccines.
The panelists noted which areas of inquiry still needed more information and research. For instance, the effects on pregnant women and children are still unknown at this point, and asymptomatic transmission may still be possible even with vaccination.
Dr. Garcia observed that, for the time being, current vaccines also seem to protect against the new Covid variants; however, further research on vaccines should still be continued.
The webinar ended with some key takeaways for the audience:
- We are “in the best possible situation” given the circumstances: mRNA vaccines are safe and effective in the short term.
- A vaccine is one of the best tools at our disposal to control the present pandemic and avoid infection. Vaccines, however, are not “magic bullets”, so measures on social distancing and use of masks should still be followed.
- Much is still unknown, so clinical trials should continue. More research and information is needed about Covid vaccines, and new vaccines must be developed to address current issues.