Jan 19, 2021 News
Despite possible side effects…
Kaieteur News – Vaccines are being touted as the primary method to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, at least 80 percent of the population will have to be vaccinated in order for this goal to be achieved. At least this is the theory being pushed by local Emergency Medicine Specialist, Dr. Zulfikar Bux.
But even as Guyana awaits the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, there are some who are convinced that the vaccine can cause more harm than good. Dr. Bux is however urging that persons give the vaccines, once they arrive, a fighting chance.
“There are many that are forming negative opinions on being vaccinated against the COVID-19 infection because of myths that are being circulated. In the meantime, the virus keeps mutating and is spreading rapidly than before causing more deaths worldwide,” Dr. Bux observed. He is, however, optimistic that by sharing as much information as possible, persons will “hopefully be convinced of the need to be vaccinated when your turn comes.”
At the moment, there are several vaccines that are in clinical trials and, according to Dr. Bux, once these trials are completed, they are presented to a panel of experts who review them and decide whether they are ready for use. In his most recent column in this newspaper, he explained that, “each country or union of countries has its own group of experts that will review the data and approve or reject the use of a particular vaccine.”
Currently, there are three vaccines that have been granted emergency authorisation for use by numerous countries worldwide. These are the Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.
As it relates to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Dr. Bux said that data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95 percent seven days after the second dose. This, he explained, means that about 95 percent of people who get the vaccine are protected from becoming seriously ill with the virus. However, this vaccine is for people age 16 and older and it requires two injections given at least 21 days apart.
Data for the Moderna vaccine on the other hand, he noted, has shown that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent and is intended for people aged 18 and older. This vaccine, he said, requires two injections given at least 28 days apart.
With an average efficacy rate that can vary from 62 to 90 percent depending on age, dose and time between doses, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses, which can be given between four to 12 weeks after the initial dose.
According to Dr. Bux, “Clinical vaccine trials showed some protection seven days after the shot. Seven days is when the body starts showing replicated antibodies.” However, he asserted, that the vaccine’s full protection needs at least 28 days and two shots with the Pfizer vaccine, and 35 days and two shots with the Moderna. This therefore suggests, the doctor noted, that receiving the shots of vaccines “does not mean you are protected right away.”
Added to this, Dr. Bux underscored that like other vaccines, “there is a possibility of some side effects from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.”
These, he revealed, could include: tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site, headache, muscle ache, tiredness and fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater).
A less common side effect, he mentioned, is that of swelling of the glands which could start a few days after the vaccine and may last for up to two weeks. “This usually indicates that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Like any other vaccine and medication, there is a very rare risk that some may be allergic to the COVID-19 vaccine. It may lead to allergic reactions that can be reversed with treatment once given prompt attention,” Dr. Bux noted.
He, however, noted that “the more vaccines are approved for use, the better are our chances of getting at least 80 percent of the world vaccinated by the end of 2021.”
To further support his vaccination argument, Dr. Bux noted that since “COVID-19 is deadly in some and can be mild in others…it can also cause devastating long-term effects that may debilitate you if you get infected. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you by creating an antibody response in your body without you having to become sick with COVID-19.”
He noted that, “in the rare instance that you do become sick, the vaccine might keep you from becoming seriously ill or from developing serious complications.” Added to this, Dr. Bux is convinced that “getting vaccinated might also help protect people around you from COVID-19, particularly people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
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