Less than 2 weeks ago, AstraZeneca announced the 90% efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine trial making it the third big pharma to make such announcement in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the world.
One of the volunteers for the vaccination Ashley Locke, 29, who in fact got her first injection just this month made it known that she joined the trial back in November 16th in Nashville, Tennessee and her documented experience had garnered millions of views on TikTok.
“I’ve seen people post TikToks about different journeys they’re having, like weight-loss journeys or moving to a new school and things like that, so I was, like, this vaccine trial is an interesting thing. I’ll post about that,” Locke said. “Maybe some people will find that interesting.”
With her heartwarming message, the post has earned some 2.7 million views and she has been inundated with numerous questions about the vaccine trial.
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But aside Miss Locke, there are other TikTokers who have also gone viral for sharing information about the COVID-19 vaccines. There are also different hashtags about the vaccines which have millions of views with young people seeking information about the trials in order to better understand it.
There was also a self-posted video of a user who posted videos of themselves participating in trials in which a doctor weighs the differences among some of the vaccine trials had also garnered millions of views. One hashtag, #CovidVaccine, has more than 36 million views.
With the COVID-19 vaccines nearing approval and global distribution, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had stated on Tuesday that a vaccine could receive emergency authorization from the FDA as soon as December 10th while distribution could start soon afterwards.
The viral TikToks not only are feeding young people’s hunger for information about the vaccines; they are also having real-world influence — from users who say the videos have persuaded them to get vaccinated once the injections are approved to young people who say they influenced them to sign up for vaccine trials, according to those making the videos.
Part of the information being posted is to further help fight against misinformation about the vaccines and the pandemic itself.
Do not forget that there have been a viral misinformation video which claimed that the vaccine is a way by which the government will implanting microchips in people but well informed young people have been able to see this kind of bad information for what it is.
And although they say they sometimes get anti-vaccine activists in their comment sections, those making the videos said the comments have been overwhelmingly positive, with many young people asking how the vaccines might work.
A doctor of biomedical sciences with focus on biophysics Kate Bredbenner posted a video back in November 11th on TikTok where she explained how the vaccine developed by Pfizer will work.
Within days, the video had amassed several million views. As of Wednesday, it had reached 3.2 million views.
“I posted it and it got a decent amount of popularity right away, and I was, like, ‘Whoa, that’s really intense.’ … I have no idea what happened in the algorithm, but, like, five days after I posted it I started getting a ton of notifications,” Bredbenner said.
Bredbenner said that just by virtue of her being a woman on the internet, she had anticipated that her video might get some weird or nasty comments. But she said the comment section is almost exclusively filled by curious users asking her how the vaccine might affect them.
“It makes me feel so good. People are genuinely having real conversations, and people are asking questions, and I think that’s kind of magic,” Bredbenner said.
On the other hand, Locke’s video got so many questions that she had made more of it in which she gave more information about the process. Part of what she stated was checking through accounts of questionnaires before answering but found that majority of them were of high school age.
“I talked to the communications director [of Clinical Research Associates]. Next time I go in, I’m going to be able to ask some of the questions I’m not able to answer. I’m going to be able to ask my doctors and hopefully have them on my videos to be a little more informative and answer some more of those scientific things that I don’t know, but still in a clear way that’s easy for our audiences,” Locke said.
Locke and Bredbenner said they’ve gotten a few “anti-vaxxer” comments on their videos, but both said other people will often reply armed with facts to debunk misinformation.
“It’s very interesting to see people having conversations around that,” Bredbenner said. “I have gotten some comments on the video that are like ‘I was really confused about this before and unsure, but this made me feel a lot more confident in how it works.'”
Locke and Bredbenner said that not only are the videos informing people but that they also appear to have some real-world influence.
Skeptics who watched Bredbenner videos has stated their plan to go and get the COVID-19 vaccine once its made available to the general public. While Locke made it known that there were numerous other trial participants who have also signed up with Clinical Research Associates just after seeing her video.
“There have been a lot of comments with people like: ‘Oh, I don’t know, girl. I’m going to check back in a couple months and see how you’re feeling then,’ and I hope they do check in and they do see that everything is fine and totally normal,” Locke said. “I do think it will be helpful to those people on the fence and maybe for some younger people on TikTok who haven’t fully developed their beliefs one way or another.”