COVID-19 Vaccine Cure or Precaution?

Source: South China Morning Post

Pandemic. CoronaVirus. COVID. In November 2019, the probability of an individual uttering these words in isolation, much less a sentence, would be close to zero. Come to 2020, these words have been embedded into our vocabularies and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.This year has been one that is devoid of optimism as most of us spend our time under quarantine. However, a glimmer of hope comes with Christmas in the form of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine launched in the UK. As the glimmer of hope gets brighter, it is imperative that we don’t become complacent. With complacency comes great risk and this risk may, unfortunately, be fatal. 

The Pfizer Vaccine

With rising cases worldwide, the UK is the first country to approve a COVID vaccine. The vaccine is manufactured by the firm Pfizer and BioNTech following seven months of exhausting trials. The Pfizer vaccine shows 95% efficacy and is deemed to be safe, according to The Guardian. An immunologist at Imperial College London, notes that the vaccine is based on data from just 170 infections. This indicates when administered on a wide scale, the efficacy may be lower than in trials. Despite this revolutionary moment, scientist’s still have plethora questions about how this vaccine will perform. Uncertainty remains regarding how the inoculations will take place.

Will the Vaccine prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

Regulators are focusing on two other vaccines developed by “Moderna of Cambridge, Massachusetts” and  “AstraZeneca of Cambridge & the University Of Oxford.” Based on massive clinical trials, all three vaccines have shown tremendous success in preventing symptoms of the disease.

However, none have shown results of preventing the disease altogether. This leaves the  possibility that those who are vaccinated may remain vulnerable to asymptomatic infection and may further spread the infection.

Who is eligible to get the vaccine first and what is the procedure?

A priority list based on who is at the greatest risk of death for “phase one” of the COVID vaccination programme has been developed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The list is as follows: 

Source: The Guardian; Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), two-doses will be injected in the deltoid muscle of the arm. The two doses must be administered at least 21 days apart for effective results.

Uncertainty presented with the COVID-19 vaccines

Since the vaccine will be distributed on an unprecedented scale, manufacturers must ensure to walk the fine line between producing the vaccine rapidly without losing quantity. There is no denying that the various vaccines coming out have been historic, nonetheless, questions are yet to be answered. Uncertainty remains around the duration of the protection the vaccine provides, the impact of it on the various demographics, and any adverse effects that might arise in the long term. 

Precaution

It is beyond doubt this is not a situation where we turn into the walking dead. Nevertheless, precautions are encouraged, not against the vaccine, but against the coronavirus itself. It is important to continue taking the precautions we are taking now in the near future. Wash your hands, wear a mask in public, and maintain distance. Understandably, it is frustrating not being able to venture out to your favorite locations with friends. It is imperative to remember that this frustration will translate into a safer future for all of us. Optimism, brought by the news of the vaccine, should not lead to complacency and carelessness. That being said, allow yourself some guilty pleasures! Go for a walk, eat a cake, and exercise. 

Written by:  Shreya Sharma

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