Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine: What to know

COVID 19 is the coronavirus caused by the virus SARS-Co V2 has quickly cornered all sides of the globe. Over 2 million people have died thus far from the virus that millions of people have contracted. Medical experts and researchers have been working tirelessly 24 hours 7 days a week to produce an effective safety vaccine that was ready for use by December 2020. This blog post takes an in-depth look at the different types of COVID-19 vaccines and how they work, how safe they are, and how to get one.

Which vaccines have approval?
Multiple vaccines are now available in different countries. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to approve the vaccines. To prove that they are safe and effective, they first need to pass through three phases of tests. Tens of thousands of participants are involved in phrase 3.
At the time of publishing this article, two vaccines have FDA approval in the U.S.:
• Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
• Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
Developed in Germany, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received approval from the FDA in the form of an ‘Emergency use authorization’.

43,000 people were involved in a phase 3 trial with around half receiving a placebo and half receiving two doses of the vaccine, 21 days apart. The final results proved that the vaccine was 95% effective at protecting against the COVID-19 virus.
The vaccine developed in Cambridge, MA, Moderna, received approval for emergency use in the U.S. in December. 30,000 phase 3 trial volunteers received a placebo or two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart. The results indicated that the vaccine was 94% effective.

Other vaccines
Vaccines that have been approved for use in different countries:
• The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine (United Kingdom)
• Coronavac, developed by Sinovac (China)
• The Sputnik V vaccine (Russia)
• Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech (India)
The Novavax vaccine is in phase 3 trials as is Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine. Both vaccines were developed in the U.S.A.
Keep up-to-date with the latest developments using the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker.

Are the vaccines safe?
There are several approval trial stages before any of the vaccines can be approved by a country’s health authority. The FDA and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S.A. work hard for public safety. And vaccine trials involve an ever-growing number of volunteers. Phase 3 had tens of thousands of participants.
The exact long-term effects of any new medical vaccine are unknown in the early stages. It is key to balance the potential risks with the known dangers of developing COVID-19.
A patient who has had a COVID-19 vaccine injection may experience flu-like symptoms and other side effects like:
• pain at the injection site
• swelling at the injection site
• fatigue
• headache and muscle pain
• a fever
The body’s immune response is intensified after the second dose of the vaccine because the side effects may be worse.
The CDC did a great job by allowing participants to keep them informed about any side effects through a smartphone-based app called V-safe. This information is valuable to monitor the vaccine’s impact on the participants and assist the ongoing work towards safety.
The vaccine should only be dispensed from a licensed healthcare professional and must follow every guideline. Patients may get the vaccine from the local hospital, clinic, or pharmacy. If you have had a previous allergic reaction to vaccines, you will need to alert your healthcare worker before they administer the vaccine. If you have an immediate allergic reaction, see your doctor immediately.

Getting the vaccine
At the moment, vaccine doses are limited and for this reason, the vaccine will only be administered to healthcare workers, people aged 75 years and older and first responders. More people will receive the doses as it becomes available. The Vaccine is free and the government will distribute it to hospitals and clinics.

Types of COVID-19 vaccine
Researchers have used various approaches to developing different types of vaccine, including:
• whole virus vaccines
• recombinant protein subunit vaccines
• replication-incompetent vector vaccines
• nucleic acid vaccines
Let’s explore these types in more detail:

Whole virus vaccine
These are known as ‘inactivated’ or ‘weakened’ virus vaccines containing dead or inactivated forms of the virus. These vaccines do not contain live viruses and therefore cannot cause an infection. The manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccines are Sinovac, Bharat Biotec, and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

Recombinant protein subunit vaccine
This vaccine is designed to trigger the body’s strong immune response. The vaccine cannot cause an infection because it does not contain a live pathogen. Researchers are working hard to make a ‘Recombinant Protein Subunit Vaccine’ that targets the spike protein which the new coronavirus uses to latch onto and infect cells. Nanoparticle technology is being developed by a company called Novavax.

Replication-incompetent vector vaccine
This vaccine carries genes that the body can express to provide immunity. The vaccine produced by Astra Zeneca has been approved in several countries, is a replication-incompetent vector vaccine. A harmless, weakened adenovirus is used to provoke an immune response. The virus was discovered in chimpanzees and was then redesigned to be more suitable for humans. This type of virus which can be found in other vaccines also reacts with the body to produce a strong immune response. An Ebola vaccine got approval and may provide the basis for further development of other vaccines.

Nucleic acid vaccine
This is an mRNA-based vaccine that involves injecting genetic material called mRNA into live host cells. Each vaccine is manufactured to isolate a particular pathogen. In the COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA has information for manufacturing coronavirus spike protein. The vaccine initiates the immune system and the body produces antibodies to fight the virus. Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna have manufactured this vaccine. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are already available for use.

How do vaccines work?
Vaccines have a clever little trick up their sleeve. They influence the immune system to make antibodies to defend against diseases. In simpler terms – they make the body believe that it is already infected with the virus. And all of this is achieved without making the patient ill.

Once exposed to the vaccine, the body develops immunity to the disease. The body can fight off the infection such as the coronavirus if it occurs.
The immune system must remain stable and not be thrown into overdrive. The goal for researchers is to develop a vaccine that works without unwanted side effects. Safe vaccines are an absolute must for all patients especially those with pre-existing conditions such as allergies and diabetes, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and senior citizens.

Preventing infection?
While this vaccine is still in production, people need to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe from COVID 19.
Follow these easy steps for reducing the risk of infection:
• Wear a face-mask in public
• Washing your hands with soap and water as often as you can – for up to 30 seconds
• Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
• Cover a sneeze or cough with a tissue or elbow
• Avoid touching your face
• Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces people frequently touch
• Avoid handshakes
• Stay away from sick people
• Maintain a 6 feet social distance
• Avoid crowds
• Be aware of symptoms like a high fever and a cough
If people need emergency care for COVID-19, call in advance to let the clinic or hospital know about their condition.
Follow these recommendations for anyone who may have been exposed to the virus:
• Contact a healthcare worker
• Keep track of your symptoms
• Isolate by staying away from others
• Seek emergency medical care
Some common COVID-19 symptoms include:
• High fever
• Persistent cough
• Loss or change of smell or taste
Throughout the world, COVID-19 has become a major health scare and challenge.
Medical scientists and governments are working hard to develop and administer vaccines and educate the public on other preventive measures.
The ultimate goal is for all people to have the COVID-19 vaccination. While waiting for the vaccine to become available, you should follow all guidelines from public health and medical experts.
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