Corona Go: A Step Towards Redemption
The world has been covered with a dark cloud known as the pandemic for quite a while now, we have seen ups and downs through the same and all our lives have been uprooted, destructed and changed forever. Now, the question that everyone seems to be asking is, where is the vaccine and would the vaccine actually bring a major change?
Well, the simple answer here would be yes! Vaccines would bring a huge change. It is a little-known fact that vaccines save millions of lives each year in terms of various ailments and diseases. They work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences, the immune system–to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but in 2020, scientists embarked on a race to produce safe and effective coronavirus vaccines in record time. Researchers are currently testing 64 vaccines in clinical trials. But, where do they stand and should we be worried?
Here is TheVibe’s scoop on the upcoming vaccine culture and the approved vaccines in this race to save lives.
°The Approved Lot of Vaccines
Creating a vaccine in less than a year is a new benchmark for human progress and scientific advancement. Before COVID-19, the mumps vaccine, developed over four years and approved in 1967, held the record for being the fastest vaccine to be developed.
As COVID-19 wreaked havoc by disrupting economies and wrecking livelihoods scientists, governments and pharmaceutical companies raced against time to find treatments and develop vaccines.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began a year ago.
The is a muscle injection type vaccine and it has a 95% efficacy and needs 2 doses to be injected about 3 weeks apart to have a complete effect towards creating immunity against the scary virus. It also needs to be in Freezer storage only at –94°F (–70°C) which makes handling and storage a proper mess for most parts of the world.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Like Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna makes its vaccine from mRNA. In recent years, the company has tested mRNA vaccines for a number of diseases, but they have yet to bring one to market. In January, they began developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.
This muscle injection requires to be administered in 2 doses which are to be 4 weeks apart. It also needs to be stored for at least 30 days with refrigeration after 6 months at –4°F (–20°C)
Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine
AstraZeneca and Oxford announced that the vaccine had good efficacy, based on a study of the first 131 cases of Covid-19 in the trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil. The volunteers all got two doses, but in some cases, the first dose was only half strength. Surprisingly, an initial half-strength dose led to 90 per cent efficacy. So, the vaccine has a total efficacy of 62% to 90%, depending on dosage and has 2 doses to be given 4 weeks apart.
The United Kingdom and Argentina gave the vaccine emergency authorization on Dec. 30. On Jan. 3, India followed suit, approving a version called Covishield, made by the Serum Institute of India. Mexico followed suit the next day.
Janssen’s COVID-19 Vaccine
Ad26.COV2.S is expected to prepare the body to defend itself against infection. The vaccine contains genetic instructions for a protein known as Spike (S) protein which is present on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. When a person is given the vaccine, their cells will read the genetic instructions and produce the S protein.
The person’s immune system will then treat this protein as foreign and produce antibodies and T cells against it. If the vaccinated person comes into contact with SARS-CoV-2, the immune system will recognise the virus and be prepared to attack it. It only required one dose to be administered to produce a high efficacy.
Novavax’s COVID-19 Vaccine
Maryland-based Novavax makes vaccines by sticking proteins onto microscopic particles. They’ve taken on a number of different diseases this way; their flu vaccine finished Phase 3 clinical trials in March.
In September, Novavax reached an agreement with the Serum Institute of India, a major vaccine manufacturer, that could enable them to produce as many as 2 billion doses a year. If its clinical trials succeed, Novavax expects to deliver 100 million doses for use in the United States in 2021. They have two doses set to be given at a three-week gap. They also have an agreement with other countries, including one to the United Kingdom for 60 million doses and another with Australia for 51 million doses.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin
In collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, the Indian company Bharat Biotech designed Covaxin, a vaccine based on an inactivated form of the Coronavirus.
Covaxin has the efficacy in India and is the first vaccine to go into clinical trials and the Indian government has granted Covaxin emergency authorization. It requires 2 doses to be administered, 4 weeks apart.
The Beijing Institute of Biological Products created an inactivated coronavirus vaccine that was put into clinical trials by the state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. On Dec. 30, Sinopharm announced that the vaccine had an efficacy of 79.34 per cent, leading the Chinese government to give its approval.
With China’s approval, BBIBP-CorV looks likely to play a major role in the country’s planned campaign to vaccinate 50 million people by mid-February. It has a beautiful 79.34% efficacy and needs 2 doses which need to be administered about 3 weeks apart.
The Upcoming Vaccine Culture in India
The case count in the country seems to be stable and Dr Harshad Ramineni, the COVID ICU house Officer at KB Bhabha Hospital at Bandra, Mumbai believes that “The current case trend seems to be a good sign for the country, however, looking at the situation in various other countries such as the US and UK, we still need to be cautious, practise social distancing, pay attention to hand hygiene and universal masking around others.”
India is currently emersed entirely into the planning for the upcoming mass-vaccination. They are working to test and launch an application as the first stop. called, ‘Co-WIN’.
The first step in the process would be registering on this application which would be followed by receiving an SMS message towards the confirmation of the same along with the number and location details.
Further, according to the details released, one photo verification ID would be compulsorily required to get the vaccine which would be verified by a vaccination offer before the dose is administered. Finally, the date and time for the second dosage would be informed after a 30-minute observatory gap.
He further added, “Universal vaccination will be a step in the right direction, as it will reduce case fatality rate (death rate) even if the cases increase in the future.
A lot of people I see, still aren’t very confident in the safety of the vaccines despite a large number of studies, however, I’m sure with more studies and more vaccinations, people will realize how safe it is.”
But the question that arises is, which vaccine would be administered here and if there is an option out there which is the absolute best.
On this matter, Dr Ramineni expressed, “The best candidate according to me is the Pfizer vaccine. It has an efficacy of 52% after the first dose and 95% after the second dose. However, considering the manufacturing and storage conditions required (–70° C), it is difficult to implement in India. The other option which is in the close competition is the Moderna vaccine, which stands at around 94% efficacy. The storage temperature for it is just 2°- 8° C, which makes it suitable for distribution in India, however, it’s mass production is difficult in India as it’s an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer vaccine. So, we’re working on other good and safe options here.”
While, Dr Jasmeet Singh, SR transfusion medicine at AIIMS added that, “India has two good vaccine options. We have Covaxin by Bharat Biotech with an 80% efficacy however the initial reports suggest that Serum Institute’s Covishield is probably the better option with the efficacy of 84%.”
He further added, “However, at the end of the day, I believe that we can vaccinate everyone in the country and move towards a safer future, soon.”
The Anti-Vax Trend in The Country
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave a green signal to Oxford-Astrazeneca’s and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin last week.
Covishield has been authorised for emergency use only and final contours are reportedly being worked out as it is yet to fulfil additional conditions.
The big question, however, is how many Indians are ready to take the vaccine?
The percentage of hesitant citizens remains unchanged at 69% from December 2020 to January 2021. In addition to this, 61% want the government to get Pfizer and Moderna to conduct Covid-19 trials for commercial use in India and refuse to get any other vaccination. In fact, only 26% approve of their children getting vaccinated.
Would this trend, pose a serious threat to the overall safety and security of the country?
Dr Harshad Ramineni expressed, “The anti-vax trend just disappoints me. I understand that it depends upon each person’s consent whether to vaccinate themselves or not, but they must not discourage others from doing so, which is exactly what is not seen with these anti-vaxxers. Many of them are watching every single adverse effect of the vaccine reported in the media. For example, a nurse fainted 10 minutes after getting the vaccine, and they made a big deal out of it. They never did the same which millions died of COVID last year.
Dr Jasmeet Singh also agreed with this as he said, “It’s just sad because there people out there who are just doing this in order to promote political propaganda and for personal reasons. I believe that this type of mental makeup giving birth to a dangerous trend like this is very scary in light of the situation at hand. I believe that in the time of a pandemic, spreading fake beliefs and propagandas like this is very wrong. One must understand that even if you have made up your mind due to personal opinions and reasons- your consent is just your own self and your body, please do not try to spread it around and force others to follow the same.”
These vaccines and the preparations that are occurring along with them basically goes to show that humanity isn’t ready to sit back and lose hope. It’s time to take a step towards betterment- Towards a new tomorrow.
TheVibe urges you to make sure that you follow the safety protocols and not lose hope for better things are just around the corner.
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