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COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 5:00 am

COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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December 18, 2020 5:00 am

Infectious disease specialists Dr. Daniel Hinthorn and Dr. Scott James share an informative perspective on COVID-19 vaccines, discussing their historic nature and the rapid speed of their development. Our guests answer common questions about the vaccines, addressing practical concerns and next steps while taking a look at where the pandemic may be heading in the coming months.

Read a statement on COVID-19 vaccines from Focus on the Family's Physicians Resource Council:

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You can choose to give a gift of stock that has appreciated over the last year you get a tax deduction for the fair market value avoid tax on the appreciation of the stock in turn that savings into a gift for family. For more information on non-cash giving visit focus non-cash that's focus non-cash welcome to Focus on the Family, you've no doubt heard many things about the coronavirus vaccines that are being rolled out. Many of contactors here at Focus on the Family asking questions about the Becks.

So today we want to help you get the information you need to keep yourself and your family safe and well-informed your hostess focus president and Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. John this is a big moment in the culture as this week. The vaccines begin to roll out and the people are taking those shots and the many people in a priority way will be having to decide will I take it, or will I not and some of describe this as a hornets nest.

But we want to inform you about what we know what many of the listeners may not realize is that we have a physician's resource Council here Focus on the Family for years, 35 to 40 doctors meet twice a year. Here, the focus campus. They look at our medical information or medical advice to ensure that it's medically accurate to help us with bioethical issues. They have been a cornerstone to the effort here Focus on the Family again for many years and we are grateful to lean on them for advice in the medical arena were going to do that today, yes and we should note they're not paid advisors. These are all that donate their time and energies to help Focus on the Family in our mission were so glad to have Dr. Dan him torn here and Dr. Scott James there with us remotely today there both infectious disease specialists on that physician's resource Council and a doctor him torn practices in Kansas.

Dr. James in Alabama both have families and children and were so glad to have them today. Dr. Kempthorne and Dr. James thanks for being with us you yeah it's so good to have your expertise and I do want to say publicly thank you for what you do for Focus on the Family on the PRC and giving us that great professional guidance when it comes to medical issues, bioethical issues, etc. in a moment working to get to the concerns but let me start at that intersection of God and science of you. You both are faithful believers in Jesus Christ. You've dedicated your life to science to medicine do those to coexist in a single person well on our faculty. We have a large number of people who are believers in practice good science so they can go together like you do the same thing in Alabama yeah I firmly believe that the heavens declare the glory of the Lord. And so I think all creation. All nature testifies to our creator and the I can look up to the heavens and and glorify God because of the reason I can also look through a microscope and look in the opposite direction, and the glory of God in microscopic level in my scientific pursuit as well. So let me start with the question on the vaccine just generally how does a vaccine work in the body, whether it's measles or are any other vaccines that have been created. How does it work in the body and why are they effective use our ways that we can visually stimulate the body to do whatever agent were dealing with. Whether it's a virus, and mostly have our viruses.

Ordinarily we use a virus that's weakened or modified bars in some way. And so that's simplistically what we do, so that body build antibodies as this.

We Artie had the virus infection itself and therefore is resistant to it in the future. That's the ordinary way that we do this the current vaccine with COBIT, however, is the difference mechanism is that we don't use the same route that we use most of other vaccines.

So it's a novel vaccine recite because it uses something that sidesteps everything called messenger RNA that has been studied for probably 30 years or so and it just wouldn't work for years after years because the messenger RNA. Although what happens is usually some DNA and then the did I get that zipped in the gets copied in message Artie goes out into the cell.

The ribosomes and that it tests the ribosomes and makes proteins against whatever it is making and what we do is we buy pet steps by injecting messenger I lay directly into the body with the loop attached to the messenger RNA begins to make proteins that look like this all been affected. So the body then develops a resistance to that thinking virus which the skaters COBIT in this way that it works it works quite nicely.

In fact, protecting probably close to 95% of people to get it which is remarkable. Much better than we thought. In fact, we said we can do 50% protection with the new vaccine really great. So to get 95% protection be wonderful. Dr. James only ask you.

Many people are concerned are some people are concerned about the speed in which this vaccine arrived the cut years off the process is very concerned medically that there were shortcuts taken that might create harm if someone takes the vexing when you look at the overall time course that it typically takes a vaccine to go through the development process is that really true that the 19 vaccines that are currently being studied have have been proceeding at a faster pace than we typically see in the just arisen out of the urgency of the moment, the pandemic and healthcare crisis that that we've seen is motivated people to find ways to not cut corners but to speed up the regulatory process so the vaccine studies have proceeded quickly but I can commonly say they have the same rigorous scientific standards that any vaccine or any therapeutic would need to go through so there been no corners cut and and I would say just based on the public interest in this in the urgency of the moment. I would say that, if anything, the transparency and the scrutiny and oversight have been even greater in this situation. Due to the urgent need of the pandemic. Dr. James mentioned toward process is my understanding that some of these vaccines were actually in development very very early on.

Much earlier than many of us would've known what so yeah actually, the benefit of the mRNA vaccine that the doctor walked us through. But with this technique which we've been studying this for years. There are other mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for other viruses and even some cancer therapeutics that have been in development so this is not something that someone just sort of immediately invented when COBIT but they were able to take advantage of some groundwork that had already been done and the nice thing about the mRNA vaccine methodology is that is soon as you know, the genetic code of the virus that you're seeking to gain protection against you can take that genetic code and within a matter of days, weeks, in this instance. Initial researchers had a template for an mRNA vaccine that they could then coat with those lipid particles. The doctor was mentioning to deliver so the actual ramp-up and development, design of the vaccine itself thanks to the progress that scientists have made in the past decade or so the for us don't work in the field of medicine and science describe a little bit more about the mRNA. What that is and how that's different from others.

The mRNA basically delivers a set of instructions that allow the cell to build part of the virus case for the Cove. In 19 vaccine it's giving our bodies felt a little instruction manual to build a spike protein which is one of the proteins upon the surface of the coronavirus and the protein that actually signals our immune system to respond by making protective antibodies for the mRNA is delivered into the cell because it's got this sort of wrapped in this lipid layer, keep it stable once it gets into the cell, it delivers those instructions ourselves and picks up that RNA makes little pieces of this spike protein so does not in any way make an entire virus or anything that could be infected but it makes just enough about part of the virus that would signal our immune system to make those protective antibodies and it says that the studies have shown that has been very effective at doing that one of the advantages also is that mRNA is very fragile, so when this mRNA is delivered into the cell, it delivers it instructions the cell makes a spike protein that triggers the immune response but then from there the mRNA itself is very quickly broken down by just our normal metabolic pathways and so there's no residual there's nothing left over. There's nothing that cannot linger in the cells and cause control on unforeseen effects down the road. MRNA is it delivers. It instructions and then it gets degraded quickly writes Dr. James. Some have expressed concern that they they believe it somehow changes their DNA. I don't believe that's true but what's the science on that somehow the virus can change a person's DNA mRNA that particular know that that's not a concern mRNA travel into the nucleus. So typically are our DNA in ourselves, the DNA mixed mRNA and it transported out of the nucleus of a one-way street and that regard so the mRNA does not cross into ourselves nucleus, and so therefore it's not going to interact with our DNA. There's no real mechanism even scientifically for it to do that or insert itself or in other any other way change or alter our let me address a big issue and that is the use of aborted fetal tissue in the development of vaccines and that's very convoluted when it comes to coping 19 but what is the issue there. Obviously, as Christians were concerned about that. And again, the purpose of this program is to inform you of our listener is so that you can make the decisions you feel you need to make. I want to make sure you have the information and were talking into two experts who can deliver that to Dr. James when it comes to the use of fetal tissue in these vaccines were we at in research laboratories.

There are one work with viruses there a lot line needs are immortal lines that kind of self generating and continue on until all of these at one point had some cell tissue that was collected at some point whether that be from human animal. Insect there's many varieties in the patch late on in the lab and are readily available. Unfortunately, some of those were regionally obtained from tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby and so there are a few particular cell lines. Most all of the cell lines have their confidence pretty clearly marked out so that you know where things originated from. And the reason for using these particularly in virus for any of us aligned is just that you need that actually work with the virus and multiply it so that you can use it and study it. Unfortunately, some of the cell lines that are particularly well adapted to working with viruses did have that origination and in the tissue from an aborted baby. I think one thing to sort of keep in mind that these are historical cell lines, and they've been very clearly studied and validated and are very there easy to use scientifically because we know what to expect with them. Researchers use them do, but there is historical in the sense that there are no ongoing additional sales that needed to be added to those so we can assess pro-life people.

We clearly say that that we are saddened and then not not okay with how these were originally how the tissues became available. The ongoing usage of a cell line that has that origin in the lab is not perpetuating meeting to further abortions and so my personal estimation. In that case would be that use of a lifesaving measure that has no other you know it ethically sourced options. In essence, would be permissible to personally think that that would not be enough of a connection to make me complicit in the original evil act that brought about that that tissue being available.

Appreciate that Dr. Thorne would you want to add to that yes you know people should be aware of the fact that the message already. Vaccines are made in cells from aborted fetuses cells. There meeting and big bats and so the chemicals are brought together and so from that standpoint the not created from fetal cell lines. However, these kinds of vaccines are checked in people so I just to see if they work. But that's not making them that way. So if you get the either Pfizer vaccine or the vaccine. Neither one of these is made in fetal satellite so we don't have to worry about that with others that we should be.

If we have that conviction. Are there others that are coming out that we should be aware of. Yes there number of those that are and it's a matter of looking to see each one that comes out is a summative fetal cell line this morning when not with these particular ones with messenger RNA are not you know I can follow in on that one. One thing that I really appreciate about how this is occurring is there's a high level of transparency with so people can have some different convictions on this across the board, whether pro-life or not. And so the level of transparency about what cells are used in the production and development of the different vaccine options that may come available.

Assuming that the other ones do reach the level of approval is really good and it gives us that option so that as doctrine. Thorne said that the first one that has been approved and and potentially one that is going to approve these two do not use historic cell lines that were historically derived from aborted fetal tissue in their design, production, or any any of that nature.

So it's good to have options like that. Grateful for that slight appreciate that input again. I think we can go to extremes at all vaccines are made that way are this way and that we don't understand what is morally more acceptable and I will post side of the website does vaccines that are not derived from fetal tissue and those that are in that way, people will know. Let me let me move to another question and the doctor him informal start with you and then go to Dr. James just in general suspicion of vaccines that mean there's been a lot in the media over the years about vaccine and side effects etc. speak to the general construct of that fear and then specifically to coping 19 and what research is showing with side effects with these vaccines so much information is seen by many people. I think a lot of it began in the middle 1990s with a researcher in England who published a paper that really was not valid and invalid and he poorly showed that the vaccines all kinds of bad things in children and that really wasn't true and when it was checked out to be fabricated. He lost his license and that paper was evoked. The Lancet said no. This is right in number is medical John general said notice. This was correct since that time there been a number of people who been talking about this in online and in the media have written against vaccines for one reason or another. Vaccines do cause problems. Sometimes in some people and we know that we is physicians and researchers all show the situations where they might cause problems in what population is. A person might have an issue with the vaccine.

Now, sometimes some of the vaccines are made in eggs, and that situation that can be a galaxy there to be a kind of allergies against components of the vaccines.

We all are upfront about a trend make sure that we don't give those to anyone who might have a reaction to it. And there's some people are just anti-vaccine because it is a will can cause you disease and and sometimes some of those things to happen. The very very rare.

Don't happen very often but they are described so there are number of reasons why people can be opposed to vaccines themselves, but by large vaccines have probably saved more lives in the history of the world and maybe the other way that we've ever done anything to save lives of people just because of the measles and rubella Thompson, and on the vaccines that we have smallpox saved many lives.

Yes, Dr. James.

What about the effect of coping 19 vaccines as they sing anything detrimental or causing harm been remarkably encouraging. So far the one we have them update on the Pfizer vaccine Pfizer bio intact vaccine that an emergency use authorization right now compared to placebo.

So this is a large randomized controlled trial, meaning it compared people who received the vaccine versus people who received a placebo, which is failing shot or non-entity and compared to those who received the placebo. There was no significant increase in the rate of adverse effect or side effect or anything like that.

What reactions there were were on the mild side so to be things like a sore arm where the injection was a little bit of fever for a day or so some fatigue and headache and the fleas were gone within two days and I would also point out just that the general concept that any medical intervention that we gave has the potential side effects of whether or not it's you know that you're taking for headache or diabetes. ~You need to take to help control your diabetes. Any of those are possibly going to have side effects and so when we do any medical intervention. It's a risk-benefit analysis of you.

I think the risk of getting coping 19 is greater then the risk of having a possible side effect to the vaccine so that that's where these large clinical trials are helpful in understanding, where to get the balance for that. Thankfully, that information is out there. So parents who are you wanting to think for themselves and their families. Not anyone can have the information available to help make that decision for themselves and finally I appreciate that. I think you said it stated it very well. Finally, let me just end where we started and that is God's perspective on these things more of the theological bent on what were saying maybe as professionals, obviously, but also as followers of Christ. These things that happened. My wife, who you know has always told me with a degree in biology. It's going to be the bacteria in the viruses that get us what's the perspective on that spiritually about harm coming to humanity. God's perspective on this. This is all part of his creation.

That's a big question, but what he think that the lesson is for us to learn that a spiritual level. The Bible has a lot of information about the end times in people said well were living in time because she is always with a number of pandemics and it does mean there were times I think this in the next rest of the world you look back at over the last hundreds of years see that in terms of what the Bible says about vaccinations and how we prevent these kind of things that is quite on that they were invented until much later. But the Bible is big on planning. In fact, that Jesus himself talked about place with people he planned ahead. In the course number of times God encourages people like Nolan join and support to plan Joseph's complaint with food and so forth. They didn't have a vaccines plan for to prevent some of these things, but the Bible does emphasize that you had in planning for the future and be ready for what might occur.

So I think that fits with our theology, but doesn't say think specific about were talking, I think, as a follower of Christ clear that I look around and I see a lot of heartache for a lot of things going sideways. I have friends and family members and colleagues who are at funerals today so I believe they were in a situation here where a lot of people are hurting and I'm discouraged by that. However, I do take firm and confident lead from God himself, and in the end, despite the hurdles were having to overcome right now. I trust that God is in control and I trust that even pandemics and plagues occur for his glory and for our good and some ultimate sense even if I can't see how things fit together. In that moment, I just trust that he is in control. I'm not thrown by what the world is handing us right now. Got a still seated on his throne and he is still good and he's serving nothing and pouring his grace out on us. Even now, through common grace of medical interventions and frontline healthcare workers in and vaccines are being developed to mean these are good gifts that come from God.

In a sense that that it's not my gift of salvation in a spiritual sense, but the gift of common grace and then when we needed and thought I just want to live in that and appreciate that you appreciate the gifts that he gives us through that and I want to take advantage of the opportunity that I have to demonstrate his love to the world around me and so I think living in a responsible way right now that is looking out for the good of our neighbor is a particular hallmark of the Christian walk right now right like loving our neighbor that that's kind of our thing.

So this is our time to shine. This is our time to really demonstrate to the world that God is good and that we are here for others and we are here to serve them into and to help them find ultimately on God, but also have the short-term, so you know I don't look at getting vaccinated as some sort of test of Christian faith or Christian love or anything like that but I do think that something like this is an opportunity to love our neighbor as a way to take a specific action to protect vulnerable people in our community as a follower of Christ want to wisely think about how I engage that opportunity that I so appreciate that.

I think several things come to mind one of which is that great Scripture John 1010 thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But I come that you might have life and life more abundantly.

I think this all fits under that banner. The idea that medical advancements help save us. Help keep us from physical harm and and I think you can talk those things in there, and the fact that God is given us the wisdom, the ability of the knowledge that you to contribute to everyday in your profession, your vocation as physicians to be able to help people is much different today than it was 2000 years ago for Dr. Luke did not have the knowledge that we have today and we should see that is a good thing that God has given humanity that kind of wisdom and insight to keep us from harm. Not always, but in many, many cases now and again I want to urge our listeners don't give into fear. Be informed that be faithful in prayer. Just as the doctor mentioned we want to equip you to make the best decision you can make. I'm not trying to twist an arm one way or the other but I do believe it's critical for you to have the information and to know what is scientifically accurate and I know that this issue within the Christian community is really controversial and I get it.

Certainly we want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts and you can go to the website.

I know were taking a little pole there with who plans to get the vaccine and who doesn't.

Just for information purposes. We just want to know our community and how you're feeling about it. So I'd encourage you to do that and that please render Focus on the Family is here for you to equip you and I'm so grateful once again to the physician resource counsel for what they do day in and day out to help focus be medically accurate to review these things to help us with bioethical issues, etc. we are indebted to these doctors that work with us to ensure that we have first a Christian foundation to what were saying.

And secondly, a medically accurate perspective on what we put out here Focus on the Family and to Dr. Henn Thorne, Dr. James, thank you for being with us today. Thank you for the perspective. Thank you for the information. We really appreciate it. Thank you and you'll find all the information that was referenced along the way here including the pole and some downloadable documents on our website links are in the notes and then we do have some additional content with the doctors and we just can't squeeze into this radio program and that's going to be online as well. On behalf of Jim Daly, and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. Have a great weekend and will see her next time once more help you and your family thrive. Life was fragile in the old West trust in God reliance on prayer and the love of family were necessities for a perilous journey and that's still true today. Artist Morgan Wiseman captures these timeless themes in his new special edition sign giclée from Focus on the Family. Morgan calls it prayer for new life, a reminder of the sanctity of life in the harsh environments of this world will find a special place in your home for a limited time you can get this special edition for life

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