7 Points to Know About The Coronavirus Vaccine

7 Points to Know About The Coronavirus Vaccine

The new coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out in many countries. Here are  important points to keep in mind about the vaccine:

1- Are they testing completely new vaccine technology on us? Yes and no. 

The vaccines are new but the technology has been around for decades.

Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for many years. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the technology can be scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods of making vaccines.

2- Does the coronavirus vaccine change my genetic material? The vaccines attempt to prepare the body to respond to the virus, by targeting the spikes in the virus.

The mechanism by which these vaccines work is by presenting this spike protein to the immune system.

Both vaccines deliver strands of genetic material known as mRNA, which  allows people’s cells to produce “spike protein.”These components of proteins aren’t dangerous (because the rest of the virus isn’t present to cause the disease).

The mRNA in the vaccine carries the instructions to the body cells on how to make a spike protein piece. Once the protein piece is made, the mRNA is destroyed and the body gets rid of it. What remains is a cell that displays the COVID protein piece on its surface.

Now our body’s immune system notices that there is a strange protein. The body begins to create a specific immune response and build antibodies against it, similar to what would happen if the body was exposed to COVID. This way our body is prepared to fight off a real COVID infection because it has already been prepared for it.

These parts that are injected into our bod help prepare the body to fight off the virus because now the body now “sees” the viral protein and designs immune cells to fight it.

3- Are there any cases of reactions to the vaccines? Yes, there have been 5 cases of reactions to the Pfizer Vaccine.

These cases are being investigated and since the vaccine is relatively new, this is expected. Read more here

4- Is this finding a surprise? No, Clinical trials have documented side effects of the coronavirus vaccines.

n Moderna’s Phase 3 trials, the most common side effects were

  •  fatigue,
  •  muscle soreness and aches,
  • joint pain and headache,
  • pain, redness or swelling at the injection site

In Pfizer/BioNTech Phase 3 trials, many participants had side effects for a day or two after getting their shots, particularly the second one. The most commonly reported side effects were

  • a sore arm
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • other muscle aches
  •  chills

5- Is the coronavirus vaccine a single-dose vaccine? No, both vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are two-dose vaccines

Both vaccines require two doses. The Pfizer/BioNTech shorts are being given 21 days apart. Moderna’s are given 28 days apart.

6- Is this a world conspiracy to sell off vaccines? Well, it doesn’t seem like that. 

Interestingly, we have a rough idea of the prices of the vaccines because the Belgian Minister tweeted the price list of COVID-19 Vaccines. The vaccine price list was not meant to be released and the manufacturers were not happy about this. She then removed the tweet.  (you can find it here).

7- Why do the vaccines need to be kept in super-cold temperatures? To maintain the mRNA. 

This is more so for the Pfizer vaccine, as Moderna claims that their vaccine can be stored in home freezers for months. The most important challenge for the development of an mRNA vaccine remains its inherent instability because it is more likely to break apart above freezing temperatures.

Some interesting links to look at:

  1. Moderna’s Timeline of work on the COVID vaccine
  2. Pfizer: Statement on the efficacy of the COVID vaccine
  3. CDC understanding the mRNA in COVID vaccines

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