The April List of “Scientific” Rumors: Does COVID-19 vaccination cause “immune escape” of the virus? Would Beidou system frequently lose connection?

2021-05-06

The monthly “scientific’ rumors list, guided by Beijing Association for Science and Technology, Beijing Municipal Cyberspace Administration Office and Beijing Internet Association and jointly released by Beijing Association of Science and Technology Journalists and Editors and www.piyao.qianlong.com, is supported by the Science Communication Committee of China Science Writers Association, the Society of Science Editors and Journalists of China Evening News, Shanghai Science and Technology Communication Association and Beijing Science and Technology Information Institute.

  1. COVID-19 vaccination will cause “immune escape” of virus

Rumors:

Large-scale COVID-19 vaccination must be stopped immediately, or it will cause virus mutation and lead to “immune escape”.

Truth

”Immune escape” refers to pathogen or tumor antagonizing, blocking and inhibiting immune response of organism through different mechanisms. “Immune escape”, although theoretically possible, shouldn’t be something that scapegoats vaccines at all.

Various mutants of the novel coronavirus have emerged before the large-scale vaccination, along with advent of more contagious mutants. Even if without vaccines, immune system would also produce immune stress to virus once the virus infects human body, which would result in occurrence of mutants.

On the other hand, it is also unrealistic that “several additional mutants of virus can resist antibodies”. When designing various vaccines, researchers generally chose the entire spike protein of the virus or even deactivated the virus in entirety so that vaccines can stimulate human body to produce various antibodies against various parts of the virus, meaning these vaccines would not immediately lose effects even when the virus mutates.

On the contrary, the virus would only get more chances to mutate when there are few vaccine recipients and the epidemic spread remains rampant. The real way to resolve the COVID-10 is to reduce the space for virus evolution and mutation by vaccinating large populations as soon as possible.

2. The Beidou satellite navigation system would frequently lose connection

Rumors:

 “Beidou system” is unreliable, as onboard Beidou positioning system frequently loses connection.

Truth:

Beidou locator and Beidou satellite navigation system (“Beidou system”) are not the same concept. Beidou system is a satellite navigation and positioning system, while the so-called “Beidou products” on the markets are often merely products of a particular company, which cannot represent Beidou system. Beidou system is capable to release navigation and positioning, but how to use it is realized by third-party software or hardware, or “Beidou products”. Assuming the satellite signal transmission of Beidou system is actually interrupted, what it triggers will be large-scale equipment failure rather than failure of one or two pieces of equipment if at all.

It is exactly because of the high popularity and good word of mouth of Beidou system that attempts to fool people by exploiting the high-tech reputation of “Beidou” frequently occur. The acts of some vendors freeloading on the reputation of Beidou system must be corrected adamantly, because doing this both helps rein in the industry and more importantly protects the reputation of Beidou system. 

3. Human activities are the culprit behind the sandstorm outbreaks in Beijing 

Rumors:

Human activities are the culprit behind the sandstorm outbreaks in Beijing. From the Jin Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, due to deforestation activities in the West Mountains for construction of palaces, Beijing has been troubled by sandstorms for 800 years.

Truth:

Sandstorm is a special type of weather, whose occurrence and changes have their own regularity, as the frequency and intensity of its occurrence is related to precipitation and temperature and even more related to weather system activities in springtime. Modern sand and dust weather studies show that occurrence of floating dust and sandstorm weathers generally requires two conditions: the first is sufficiently strong and persistent wind force, and the second is loose and dry sand and dust rich on the land surface. The occurrence of sandstorms indeed has something to do with human activities, but the latter is not a decisive factor. Natural conditions themselves are the decisive factor for occurrence of sandstorms, while human activities only play a role of strengthening or weakening sandstorms. 

The occurrence of sandstorms in Beijing area is not merely something that persists throughout 800 years since the Yuan dynasty but has always been around throughout the entire history. The incidence of sandstorms in North China during Ming and Qing dynasties did not show a characteristic that its incidence and intensity increase along with increased human activities, but manifested itself as a quasi-periodic oscillation. The change sequence of sandstorm has very significant negative correlation with changes in contemporaneous spring and winter temperatures in North China, while at the same time also have significant negative correlation with precipitation sequence in North China. In other words, if amount of precipitation is large, surface soil layer is moist and sand and dust are highly adhesive and not easy to fly, sandstorms will weaken, and vice versa. 

4. Drinking purified water would lead to osteoporosis

Rumors:

Purified water lacks “life ion” that nourishes human body, so frequently drinking purified water will lead to ion drain and cause increasingly acidic body fluids as well as result in osteoporosis and chondropathy. 

Truth:

Drinking purified water would not lead to osteoporosis or chondropathy. Purified water is a kind of water made by reverse osmosis or distillation that removes the vast majority of impurities. After treatment, mineral elements essential to human body in purified water such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium would significantly decrease, but that does not mean purified water contain no trace elements at all.

The normal pH value of human body fluids is between 7.35 and 7.45, which wouldn’t change remarkably although human body constantly produces and takes in substances with different acidity and alkalinity. Purified water is neutral or weakly acidic and wouldn’t change pH value of organs or other tissues after being reconciled by gastric fluid and absorbed by intestinal tract. Therefore, for human body, drinking purified water wouldn’t make body fluids “increasingly acidic”. 

Drinking purified water would not lead to osteoporosis and chondropathy either. For an adult weighing 60kg, his body fluids weigh about 36-42 kg, while the amount of water consumed by him a day generally does not exceed 2 liters. Such amount of water consumption has no effects on calcium ion concentration in his body, while the main contributors to calcium drain from human body are age, hormone level and dietary intake, etc. 

Moreover, the causes of chondropathy are insufficient vitamin D intake, excessively low content of calcium in body and insufficient exposure to sunshine. The primary way human body takes in calcium, magnesium and other elements is daily diet rather than water drinking. 

5. The protective period of COVID-19 vaccine is merely half a year

Rumors:

The protective period of COVID-19 vaccine is merely half a year, meaning another shot is necessary six months later. 

Truth:

The currently available data about merely six-month period does not mean “vaccines are effective only for half a year”. The National Health Commission recently announced that the valid period of vaccine is roughly more than 6 months according to the current monitoring results about antibody level of vaccine recipients. This is the period of antibody level currently monitored, but doesn’t mean immunity is available only for such period. Moreover, antibody is not the only measure of protection.

It has been merely more than a year since mankind came into contact with the novel coronavirus, and the history of COVID-19 vaccines is even shorter. So the ongoing research into the immunity durability is still under constant observation. According to the “Guiding Principle for Clinical Evaluation of Vaccines Used for Prevention of Novel Coronavirus (Trial)” issued by the National Medical Products Administration, COVID-19 vaccines marketed shall at least provide 6-month protection. Studies targeting the first group of vaccine recipients show that they have obtained 9-month antibody monitoring data so far. Experts are also intensifying monitoring efforts, and protective effect of longer periods calls for further observation.

6. Taking COVID-19 vaccine shots means there is no need for nucleic acid tests

Rumors:

The protective effect generated after COVID-19 vaccination is very good, so nucleic acid tests are no longer required as long as the vaccination certificate is produced.

Truth:

Beijing CDC said, according to the preliminary clinical trial research on COVID-19 inactivated vaccine, vaccinated populations can produce good immune effect about two weeks after getting the second vaccine shot. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 vaccination certificate cannot replace the nucleic acid test reports.

According to the CDC, after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, a very limited number of vaccine recipients are still likely to show positive in nucleic acid test or fall ill. The reasons include: after vaccination throughout the process, particular vaccine recipients fail to get effective protection due to immunization failure, and this part of population might be tested positive or fall ill due to infection with the virus after exposure to the virus; the protective effect will not appear until after a period of time of vaccination, so if one gets infected with the virus within this period, he or she might be tested positive or fall ill; patients within the latency or asymptomatic carriers still might be tested positive or fall ill due to previous infection even if they are vaccinated. The CDC reminds that this part of the population is likely to become infectors. When nucleic acid screening is required during the COVID-19 containment, the vaccination certificate cannot replace nucleic acid test reports, meaning citizens are still required to cooperate with related authorities on nucleic acid test. 

7. People with allergic constitution definitely cannot receive COVID-19 vaccines

Rumors:

Some people are of allergic constitution, so they are particularly unwilling to get vaccinated against COVID-19, because vaccination would trigger intense allergic reaction.

Truth:

Many people are concerned about whether “people with allergic constitution” can receive COVID-19 vaccines. According to the “Technical Guide to Novel Coronavirus Vaccination (1st Edition), there are two vaccination contraindications that are related to “allergy”. The first is allergy to active ingredients and inactive ingredients in vaccines and substances used in production technology, or previous allergy to inoculation of the same type of vaccines; the second is previous severe allergic reaction to vaccines. Then, as there are a large number of people who are allergic to pollen and antibiotics, can they on earth receive COVID-19 vaccine? 

Currently, this vaccine contains no antibiotics, so allergy to antibiotics is not considered as a contraindication for vaccination. For general allergies, for example, some people have allergic rhinitis and some others might be allergic to pollen, the so-called allergic constitution is not a vaccination contraindication for vaccine because these are not directly connected with vaccine components. The proportion of true vaccine allergy is actually not very high, and the commonly-seen ones are allergic rashes, but these allergies might pass very soon. Allergic shock is something slightly more severe, but the probability of occurrence of such case is very low, generally below one in a million. 

As very severe allergies all occur about 15 minutes after vaccination, it is necessary to wait out for 30 minutes at the vaccination spot. In the very unlikely case of relatively severe reactions such as laryngeal edema and allergic shock, the vaccination spots can provide timely treatment just in case.

 

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