Hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19, major pharmaceutical giants started rolling out vaccines around the start of this year. Various government agencies around the world have started mass vaccination campaigns in a bid to end the pandemic.
Amidst this ray of hope, it is unfortunate that some people spread misinformation, creating mass hysteria. Numerous myths have circulated the internet as if they are scientific facts. The common man finds it increasingly difficult to figure out what to believe and what not to believe.
On our Quora handle, we have been getting numerous requests about Covid vaccines, which motivated us to compile all the information on Covid vaccines we have gathered from trusted sources.
According to the WHO, about 13 vaccines on 4 different platforms are administered all over the world. Safe and effective vaccines can be huge game-changers in the fight against Covid, however, continue to wear masks, maintain social distancing and follow all Covid protocols.
Covid vaccines can be classified into 4, based on the platform they use.
mRNA vaccines deliver genetic instruction to the cells in our body via nanoparticles. This causes the cells to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which prepares the immune system for an actual Covid infection.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines come under this type of vaccine and have proven to have very high efficacy.
Adenoviral Vector Vaccines
The common cold virus is used as a vector to deliver instructions to the cells to produce SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This prepares the immune system for an actual infection.
Currently, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Janssen utilize this relatively new technology in their vaccines. Reports of blood clot formation from across the globe have raised safety concerns and caused panic among people.
Vaccines like Novavax and GSK/Sanofi directly introduce the spike protein into the body along with adjuvants to prepare the immune system in case of future infections.
Inactivated whole virus Vaccines
As the name suggests, these vaccines introduce inactivated SARS-CoV-2 viruses into the body along with adjuvants, gearing up the immune system against potential infections. Vaccines like Sinopharm or Covaxin use this technology.
Effectiveness and efficacy of vaccines
There are numerous instances of people comparing vaccines based on their efficacy. But is it possible to determine the best vaccine by merely comparing its efficacy?
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. To know why we must first understand the difference between effectiveness and efficacy.
Suppose during a clinical trial, 100 people were vaccinated and at the end of the trial, about 88 showed no presence of Coronavirus. Then the efficacy of the vaccine is 88%.
However, it is to be noted that these trials are carefully designed and usually run on otherwise healthy individuals.
Now when we apply the vaccines to the general population, people with underlying issues are also vaccinated.
Therefore, the clinical efficacy may not necessarily translate to the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The effectiveness of a vaccine is generally measured by what is known as observational studies. The number of unvaccinated people who have tested positive is compared to the number of people who develop the disease despite getting vaccinated to determine the effectiveness.
Even vaccines without high effectiveness have proven to be useful in the past.
The COVID vaccines approved by WHO are safe and effective. Although there may be side effects in some cases, vaccines significantly increase your immunity against COVID-19 and prevent severe symptoms and fatalities.
AstraZeneca Blood clots
The blood clots or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) caused by AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are rare. Only about 1 in 88,000 or so are reported to have TTS.
Although reports from Europe earlier suggested that 20% of TTS cases were fatal, newer reports from Australia put fatality to about 4% only.
These newer reports suggest that the fatality due to TTS is just about 0.00005% if they have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Covid infections due to vaccines
A lot of misinformation is spread across various social media platforms suggesting that Covid vaccines may cause Covid infections.
But as you can see above, none of the vaccines contain the live SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Hence, these reports are baseless.
As with any medicine, vaccines may also cause side effects. These are normal and go away on their own. Commonly seen side effects include:
Reaction at injection site including swelling, pain, or redness.
Flu-like symptoms including chills, fatigue, joint pain, headache, mild fever, muscle ache.
In some cases, vaccines may cause an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. These are usually seen within 15 minutes of administration and can be treated.
The WHO-approved vaccines are safe and effective in boosting immunity against the coronavirus. Even though they do not offer full immunity from Covid, the severity of symptoms drops significantly in vaccinated individuals.
Even after getting vaccinated do wear masks, maintain social distance and follow all other necessary protocols as issued by your local government.
Mask up and have a good day.