Vaccines are a safe and effective way to combat COVID-19, and we, as Canadian scientists, encourage all Canadians to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We are eager to be vaccinated ourselves, along with our families, friends and colleagues. Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect Canadians and we stand in support of this important initiative by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
There is a consensus among scientists about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.
As Presidents of Canadian scientific societies with scientific expertise ranging from viruses to ecosystems and population biology – and a breadth of basic discovery science to applied research – we have chosen to speak up in support of the COVID-19 vaccines:
“The many biochemists, cell and molecular biologists of the Canadian Society of Molecular Biosciences understand the incredible power of vaccination as a way harnessing our own immune systems to protect us against this serious infectious viral disease”, says Dr. Imogen Coe, President of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences. “We also unequivocally endorse the rigorous evaluation of vaccine efficacy and safety by Health Canada.“
Dr. Coe adds: “We are speaking up today because we are worried about the amount of misinformation that is being published on social media. We are worried for our families and communities, too, just like everybody else. Vaccines save lives, and there is widespread support for vaccination in the scientific community – it is important to get this message out there. “
The President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, Dr. Charles Bourque adds “We know that COVID-19 causes cough and respiratory problems that can lead to hospitalization and even death, in the short term, but the virus can affect many other parts of the body, including the brain. Neuroscientists and medical professionals are worried about possible long-term effects of COVID-19 on patients, and we believe vaccination, which helps prevent infection, is particularly important to protect Canadians and keep them healthy. I look forward to being vaccinated myself.”
https://www.ciee-icee.ca/The President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, Dr. Stephen Heard, adds “COVID-19 spreads rapidly in populations unless strict social distancing rules are followed, and recent news about spiking cases across Canada shows that we’re having trouble maintaining that strictness. And in any event, we look forward to hugging each other again! We have an opportunity to stop the spread using COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are safe and effective, and population studies show that widespread vaccination saves lives by halting the spread of disease. We therefore encourage everyone to do their part for our communities, and get the vaccine as soon as they can.”http://www.csee-scee.ca/
The President of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists Dr. Ayush Kumar adds “SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the causative agent of COVID-19 has a tremendous ability to spread through individuals and communities. This virus has resulted in almost 100 million infections around the world and more than two million deaths. Vaccines are the most effective means to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The Canadian Society of Microbiologists strongly urges Canadians to do our part to stop the spread of this dangerous disease by getting vaccinated.”
The President of the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Dr. Kerry Goralski adds “New vaccine technologies have allowed for the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines. We are pleased to see that Health Canada has recently authorized the use of two COVID-19 vaccines, and that two other vaccines are currently under review. Vaccines are an important pharmacological tool for us to limit the spread of diseases like COVID-19 and save lives. Additionally, the importance of vaccination and vaccine confidence are more important than ever with the confluence of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza this winter. For these reasons we wholeheartedly encourage all Canadians to get vaccinated. We will be getting vaccinated as soon as our turn arrives.”
Dr. Sally Leys, President of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, comments that “as zoologists we are keenly aware of the devastating effects viruses can have on animal health. SARS-CoV-2 is no exception. Not only does this virus infect and negatively impact the health of different animal species, but as we are all aware SARS-CoV-2 has been challenging human health on a global scale. It is our belief that the vaccine represents the quickest and safest pathway towards herd immunity in humans and a resumption of normality in our lives. Choosing to vaccinate yourselves will not only protect you as an individual but will also protect those within your community that are not able to be vaccinated. The Canadian Society of Zoologists supports the choice to vaccinate in order to control SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Dr. Jimmy Dikeakos, President of the Canadian Society for Virology, comments that “as virologists we are fully aware of the pathogenic effects that SARS CoV-2 can have on the human host. We are elated to see the tremendous progress that has been made by science during the last year to develop COVID-19 vaccines. We fully support evidence-based science and a wide scale vaccination campaign that will help Canadians. The Canadian Society of Virology supports the choice to vaccinate in order to control SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
The current and incoming Presidents of the Canadian Society for Immunology, Dr. Kamala D Patel and Dr. Aaron Marshall add, “Extraordinary efforts have been made by our scientific community to understand the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in order to develop treatments and vaccines. We have also worked to share reliable, factual information with the public throughout the pandemic. The rapid generation of highly effective and safe vaccines represents an unprecedented accomplishment that is now poised to turn the tide in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Society strongly supports the implementation of vaccination programs around the world and we urge Canadians to protect our families, our communities and our health care system by getting vaccinated at first opportunity.”
The President of Plant Canada, Geoffrey Wasteneys, adds “Although plant biology might seem peripheral to a vaccination program, it would be important to highlight that one of Canada’s main contributions to the development of a Covid-19 vaccine is through the Canadian biotech company Medicago, who are working to develop a vaccine that will literally be grown in plants. This technology uses an Australian native tobacco species, Nicotiana benthamiana, as factories for synthesis and packaging of the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. The plant-made virus-like particles are currently in phase 3 clinical trials. This outcome in the current pandemic underlies the critical importance for supporting fundamental research in plant biology that goes well beyond agriculture, nutrition, food, and the environment, but also has tremendous potential in the field of medicine.”
Christine Allen, President of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences adds: “I will immediately proceed to be vaccinated the moment I am eligible. Each and every member of my family will be taking the same approach. Corners were not cut to develop the various COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines were able to be developed on record-breaking timelines as a consequence of research which goes back decades. They were not developed from a standing start. I have every confidence in Health Canada’s decisions around the safety and efficacy of each vaccine they choose to approve for me, my family and all Canadians.”
The President of the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists, Dr. Wayne Beckham, says “As medical physicists involved in the technology of healthcare (radiation therapy, medical imaging, industry and academia) we are acutely aware of the disruptions caused by COVID-19. These disruptions are not just from people getting sick from the virus but also the fact that people are not able or willing to access the rest of our healthcare systems in a timely fashion. These delays negatively impact the health of countless Canadians. Vaccination is a very important way for us as a population to combat these negative effects on our overall health by eliminating the spread of this wretched virus. I strongly encourage individuals to consider getting vaccinated as soon as they are able.”
The President of the Entomological Society of Canada, Bill Riel adds: “I am pleased to add my voice to other Canadian scientists in support of Canada’s vaccination program for COVID-19. All of us have been impacted by the pandemic, and certainly all of us are longing for a return to normal. I have every confidence in Health Canada’s rigorous process to approve these vaccines for Canadians, and believe that vaccination is the best and quickest way to get back to normal, to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Canada is at a pivotal point in the fight against COVID-19. At the same time as some viral strains have evolved greater transmissibility, our country has within its grasp the potential to immunize much of the population against COVID-19. Canada’s scientists have played important roles in this fight, including understanding viral infection and evolution, modelling the epidemiology of the disease, or communicating the biological processes underlying the pandemic.
Collectively, our academic societies and organizations represent thousands of scientific researchers across Canada, with expertise in biology, biochemistry, virology, neuroscience, epidemiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, genetics, genomics, evolutionary biology, ecology, biomathematical modelling and data analysis, synthesis, and interpretation.
As scientists, we understand the importance of evidence-based decisions in public health. We support the vaccination effort, because we know that vaccines can effectively protect communities from contracting disease and can limit or even prevent the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19, in populations. In particular, Canadians can be confident in the Health Canada approval process for COVID-19 vaccines. We, as scientists, are eager to be vaccinated, along with our families, friends, and colleagues – just as soon as it is our turn.
We urge all Canadians to:
- obtain information on COVID-19 vaccines from reliable sources, such as the government of Canada website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
- be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as permitted by local health authorities
- follow all public health measures to limit the spread of the virus as we await widespread immunity against COVID-19 in the general public
Scientific research can provide us with the tools to fight COVID-19, but it will take well-informed action from each of us to win this battle.
Diane Srivastava, PhD, Director, Canadian Institute of Ecology and Evolution
Stephen Heard, PhD, President, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution
Imogen R. Coe, PhD, President, Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences
Charles Bourque, PhD, President, Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Ayush Kumar, PhD, President of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists
Kerry Goralski, PhD, President, Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Sally Leys, PhD, President of the Canadian Society of Zoologists
Jimmy Dikeakos, PhD, President of the Canadian Society for Virology
Kamala D Patel, PhD, President of the Canadian Society for Immunology
Aaron Marshall, PhD, President-elect of the Canadian Society for Immunology
Geoffrey Wasteneys, PhD, President, Plant Canada
Rima Menassa, PhD, President, Canadian Association for Plant Biotechnology
Daphne Goring, PhD, President, Canadian Society of Plant Biologists
Christine Allen, PhD, President of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences
Wayne Beckham, PhD, President Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists
Bill Riel, MSc, President, Entomological Society of Canada