COVID- 19 vaccines - Can the pandemic be overcome?

08. February 2021. 09:05

The vaccines of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson the Russian Sputnik-V use a so-called recombinant vaccine. They introduce into your body a harmless so-called recombinant or adenovirus produced in a laboratory. This contains the genetic stock of the coronavirus without the virus being dangerous to the human body, but the immune system senses the protein and takes the appropriate countermeasures for effective protection. There is a vaccine which delivers neither inactivated nor recombinant virus into the body, but directly some part of the coronavirus protein is administered, which thus triggers immune response. This is the so-called protein-based vaccine, and the vaccine of GSK/Sanofi applies this principle. Messenger RNA vaccine constitutes the latest cutting-edge technology. Here, it is not the protein but the so-called messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is administered. mRNA vaccines deliver to the cells the instructions needed to produce spike protein, so the immune system is able to respond appropriately. Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are based on this technology. Any of these vaccines can protect the vaccinee from infection efficiently, but if a COVID-19 infection were developed in a vaccinee, it would pass in a much milder form than in case of non-vaccinated people.

What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

Different types of vaccines have been administered to millions of people so far, and very few side effects have been reported, they were mainly mild symptoms (local redness, high temperature, possibly fever), the more severe symptoms disappeared in a couple of hours, and I do not know about any deaths. These vaccines are safe (otherwise they could not be marketed in Hungary), and it seems vaccination is the only way to stop the pandemic, so I recommend that you get vaccinated for the sake of yourself and your loved ones.

Why are children and pregnant women not vaccinated?

Children are not little adults, therefore the third phase clinical trials conducted mainly among healthy middle-aged volunteers cannot be applied to children and pregnant women, so manufacturers do not recommend that children and pregnant women have the vaccines because they have not been tested in a sufficient number of people.

What does it mean that a virus is mutating?

The composition of living world changes constantly, certain species transform constantly, new species evolve, that is new species mutate, so mutation is a change in the hereditary sequence, which results in a new genetic trait. That is how the evolution of viruses works, those viruses become more common which can spread more efficiently or can increase survival rate. It is important to detect them as soon as possible because it is the only way to take efficient epidemic measures against them.

Are existing vaccines efficient against the mutated virus?

Current knowledge indicates that mutated strains of the coronavirus does not make the vaccines ineffective; they may slightly reduce their efficiency from 94-95%, but they can defeat the mutant virus in the vaccinated body as efficiently as the original virus strain, so vaccination protects against the development of a serious disease. Just like in case of flu vaccines, manufacturers are constantly updating the composition of the vaccines against the new variants of the virus.

Who is vaccinated and when according to the vaccination plan? Where do cancer patient belong? Who is considered a chronic patient?

According to the vaccination plan, the order is as follows: healthcare staff (COVID ward, other hospital wards, primary care), social workers and residents of elderly care homes, people over 60, chronically ill people, law enforcement and public administration staff.

Chronic diseases are defined as conditions that are of long duration and slow progression. They include cardiovascular, chronic respiratory, musculoskeletal diseases, diabetes and cancer. Therefore, cancer patients and in general chronically ill people as well as the elderly have priority in the vaccination plan.

In the current situation, it is important to get vaccinated as soon as it is your turn, and after vaccination keep on adopting protective behaviours as before, since you can still become infected and infect others until protection develops (about a month), which you can only avoid by complying with the epidemiological regulations.

 

Dr. Sára Felszeghi PhD

associate professor

chief physician