When politics interferes, science gets muddled

Protesters stage a rally in Tamuning to oppose the government's vaccine mandate. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

By Bea Cabrera

Many people who were skeptical about the Covid-19 vaccine became even more so when breakthrough cases became regular occurrences. Breakthrough infections refer to cases involving fully vaccinated people who get stricken by Covid-19.

The growing number of breakthrough cases has raised more doubts and questions about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson.

But most of the questions are drawn along political lines, according to Dr. David Weingarten, neurosurgeon and founder of the Weingarten Institute of Neuroscience on Guam.

“One of the greatest tragedies of the pandemic is that everything has become a politicized issue. People side with one camp or another, and completely disregard scientific evidence that doesn’t fit their political narrative,” Weingarten said. “This happens on both sides of the aisle, with both sides accusing the other of being ignorant or misinformed.”

The government of Guam’s Covid-related policies have also polarized the community.

Guam was close to achieving a nearly 90 percent vaccination rate as of the last week of September. Yet, there are weekly protests from groups of people opposing the vaccine mandate for different reasons. Some refuse being forced to roll up their sleeves; others for being shamed; still others for being excluded from society for their choice. Some invoke religious beliefs, while others are simply anti-vaxxers.

“Some people are simply like obstinate children playing a game of ‘you can’t make me,’ no matter the consequence,” Weingarten said. “Thankfully, most people in Guam have been fairly sensible about getting the vaccine and they trust their medical professionals.”