Vaccines perfectly safe: Technology, situation made invention possible

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Vaccines perfectly safe: Technology, situation made invention possible

Thursday, 04 March 2021 | BISWARAJ PATNAIK

Thinking people posed a valid query: how is it possible that an effective Covid-19 vaccine is already in hand? When frightening scourges like AIDS are difficult to contain even after decades of discovery, corona had an antidote in under a year. The vaccines, therefore, look suspect.

Most ordinary people do not know the critical fact: the enormity of infection and the sudden severity of the ailment and some peculiarly unique structural pattern of the virus made it possible for researchers to figure out the strengths and weaknesses and fatal flaws of the corona virus sooner than usual. So, medical scientists took only little time to zero in on what destroys or arrests the fast multiplication of the pathogen just too soon. Countless experiments across the medical scientific fraternity led to concocting highly-effective vaccines.

If the circumstances are suitable, vaccines are not as complicated or time-taking as for designing a rocket to go beyond the milk-way galaxy. Thus, effective vaccines came along fast and that is quite normal given the circumstances.

The Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years; so, the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. China isolated and shared genetic information about Covid-19 promptly; so, scientists could start working on vaccines. The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.

Vaccine projects had plenty of resources as governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance. Some types vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made.

Because Covid-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated. Most companies began making vaccines early in the process, even before FDA authorisation; so, some supplies were ready when authorisation occurred.

All vaccines are effective. But handling issues are vastly different which make some vaccines unviable or difficult to apply. The American vaccine, though very effective, is nearly impossible to use in India as the coldchain logistics facility required for transporting the stuff is very cumbersome and expensive. The UK-grown, made in India vaccine ‘Covishield’ is much easier to carry and use as it requires ordinary household fridge temperatures to maintain high potency and efficacy. The fully home-grown ‘Covaxin’ too has no coldchain transport issues. Quite evidently, both the vaccines available in India have been proven to be as good as the US invention.

All these vaccines will protect people from becoming sick even if they come in contact with the virus. As more and more people are vaccinated, families and communities will return to a more normal routine earlier than usual.Lisa Maragakis, MD, MPH, senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response have cleared a few doubts expressed by ordinary people:


-The research to date indicates the vaccines for Covid-19 have a very good safety profile.

-The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covid-19 vaccines.

-Most vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials. Data from the manufactures show that the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease outweigh the potential safety risks of the vaccines.

-Even though the coronavirus vaccines were developed more quickly than other vaccines in the past, they have been carefully tested and continue to be monitored. The US vaccine safety system works to make sure that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety has been a top priority as federal agencies work with vaccine manufacturers to develop and authorise a vaccine.

To get vaccinated immediately, the doubting people must know some key areas of vaccine development, review and authoriation that have not ever been compromised:

•  Careful testing. All vaccines go through clinical trials to test safety and effectiveness. For the Covid-19 vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set up rigorous standards for vaccine developers to meet. This infographic from the National Institutes of Health shows the four phases a vaccine must go through before it is released to the public.

• Authorisation for emergency use: Vaccines that meet FDA safety and effectiveness standards can be made available in the United States by approval or by emergency use authorisation (EUA). An EUA provides temporary authorization of a vaccine or medication under emergency situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

• Continuous monitoring for problems and side effects:

Once a vaccine is authorized for use, monitoring continues, with systems in place to track problems or side effects that were not detected during the clinical trials. For the Covid-19 vaccine, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are expanding their vaccine monitoring. If there are problems with the vaccine, they are most likely to emerge early in the testing process when they can be identified and addressed.

No one will get Covid-19 from the vaccine. The vaccines do not have the original virus or other infectious material in them. They are designed to cause the body to make copies of a harmless piece of the coronavirus, so no one will get Covid-19 from the vaccine.

Side effects such as fever and soreness at the injection site have been reported, particularly after the second injection (both of these vaccines require a second injection three to four weeks later), but the reported vaccine side effects in the trials are not as severe or dangerous as having a bad case of Covid-19 illness. People who have already gotten sick with Covid-19 will doubtlessly benefit from getting vaccinated. Due to the severe health risks associated with Covid-19 and the fact that re-infection with Covid-19 is possible, people are advised to get a vaccine even if they have been sick with Covid-19 before.

Early evidence suggests natural immunity from Covid-19 may not last very long. Scientists believe the available vaccines offer fairly robust protection against the coronavirus than natural infection that creates antibodies.

Lastly, one critical fact be made expressly clear: the sporadic reactions like in allergy conditions have been overblown. The percentage is too negligible and the issue be ignored.

It has been established conclusively now that in most cases of bodily reactions, of any kind, the individuals had some ailment developing already without showing symptoms. It is only coincidentally that they happened to manifest just after the vaccine was administered.  That would have happened anyway. But the lifesaving vaccine took the blame. This truth be known well.

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