July roundup: dos and don’ts after taking COVID-19, Akufo-Addo’s claim on interchanges inconsistent

In July, the more deadly and transmissible Delta variant had been recorded on Ghana’s shores, causing a huge rise in the number of infections leading to an impending third wave. The previous month, June, had ended the second phase of the vaccine administration for people who had earlier received their first jab in March and April. In view of that, the fact-checking team continued with its education on COVID-19 and the vaccines.

The team addressed the do’s and don’ts after vaccination in an effort to reduce the resistance to the inoculation exercise with a report titled “What You Can and Cannot do after COVID-19 vaccination. Here are the views of experts”.

The report indicated that vaccinated people can resume indoor activities as they were used to before the pandemic and travel to restaurants, hotels, tourist attraction sites, etc. However, they must still observe the safety protocols, especially around non-vaccinated individuals. Although vaccination guarantees a level of protection, vaccinated people should not be reckless in moving into crowded areas and places where protocols are not observed, the report said.

Still on vaccination, an enquiry most of the website’s readers channelled to the team, had to do with consuming alcohol before or after taking a vaccine. The Fact-Check Ghana team got to work and produced a report titled “Can I drink alcohol before and after a jab”. The report highlighted that alcohol use has been noted to act negatively on the immune system as found by various studies. Dr Messaoudi, Director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California, was quoted to have said, “chronic consumption of alcohol increases the production of inflammatory factors by immune cells which reduce the ability to fight infection”.

Along the lines of addressing issues on vaccine hesitancy due to misinformation that COVID-19 vaccines affect the reproductive health of both men and women, the fact-checking team explored the subject. In the first report, the team looked at addressing issues of falsehoods about the impact of vaccines on male fertility. According to the report “Should men be worried about the COVID-19 virus, vaccine on their reproductive health?”, sperm quality and count in young men do not drop after taking the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as stated by peer-reviewed Journal of American Medical Association. On the other hand, the Journal of Reproduction study found that the COVID-19 virus affects sperm motility and quality.

On the impact of the COVID-19 virus and vaccines on female reproductive systems, the team sort to find out if vaccines affect the menstrual cycle. This was detailed in the report, “Menstrual changes were not tracked as an endpoint within clinical research trials for our Janssen COVID-19 vaccine”. The report noted that Johnson & Johnson’s responded, in part, on the issue, based on a study conducted, “Menstrual changes were not tracked as an endpoint within clinical research trials for our Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.” Pfizer on the other hand, said. “abnormal menstruation or reproductive changes have not been a reported adverse event.” Pfizer’s response was based on its phase three clinical trial, with more than 44,000 people, half of which were women.

According to Dr Claire Elliot Herrick, changes in the menstrual cycle cannot be directly linked to COVID-19 jabs, however, if one experiences changes, it should not be in the long term and will not have any impact on your fertility. Any disruptions with the menstrual cycle will resume to normal in a short time, the report noted.

 When the first COVID-19 vaccine was available for use, there was a raging debate as to the category of individuals to be vaccinated first. The first group fell within the age cohort of 16 – 60 years and then 65 above. Many people wondered why a lot of children were not being vaccinated. Fact-Check Ghana looked into the issue of vaccinating children and found about 1-2 % of the infections worldwide affected children and low rates are as a result of children being relatively affected by the virus.

In July, the four-tier Pokuase interchange was inaugurated by His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo. The inauguration was greeted with many commentaries mainly among the rank and file, sympathizers of both the ruling party, NPP, and the leading opposition party (NDC) and the general public. Most of the conversations centred around which party can lay claim to the interchange as their legacy. Also, there was a raging argument about the issue of value for money for some interchanges started under the previous administration which is being completed by the current administration. This followed a claim by President Akufo-Addo at the commissioning of the Pokuase Interchange that his government has used an amount the previous administration used to build an interchange to build three. The claim had previously been made by Dr Bawumia, the Vice President.

Fact-Check Ghana delved into the issue of whose legacy the Pokuase Interchange is and found the following: “Mahama-led government did the initial work by negotiating and signing the grant for the project. On their part, the Akufo-Addo-led government executed the project by cutting sod for it, redesigning it from 3-tier to 4-tier, and ensuring it is completed.”

The value for money arguments made by two top gentlemen of the land, President Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo and Veep Dr Mahamudu Bawumia were found to be inconsistent.

From the team’s research, it was discovered that many factors go into the cost of road projects including the number of tiers, type of materials, cost of transporting materials, bridges, ramps, etc. The Fact-checking team concluded it is disingenuous to compare the cost of two or more projects on the face value without considering the several components which make up the interchange.

Lastly, the Fact-Check team looked at individuals who fear needles, their implication on the vaccination exercise, and the long term impact on Ghana’s goal of attaining herd immunity. According to a study by the University of Michigan, about 20 per cent of the population avoided tetanus shots due to the fear of needles but on the positive side of things, such individuals become more receptive as they age. The report also gave pointers on how people with needle phobia can overcome it and help in the fight to defeat the pandemic.

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