23 Mar Are you protected from the virus? What you should know about Covid-19 vaccinations Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna
Is the Covid-19 vaccine protecting you from the virus, or are there more things you should know?
Since the roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination in the U.S. nearly three months ago in December, there have been many questions about the validity of the vaccine. And for natural reasons: People are curious as to side effects, effectiveness, and the statistics of how the vaccine works and if it works for everyone each time.
The Pfizer/BioNTech isn’t only the only vaccine on the market. Moderna is a vaccine that’s also available for people to receive to fight the virus. Let’s consider the following criteria for both vaccines:
- Key differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine & Moderna vaccine
- Effectivity of both vaccines, including how they’re used (dosage, etc.)
- Getting either vaccine even if you’ve had Covid in the past
- Moderate to severe side effects of the vaccine
- What to expext moving forward in 2021
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both made using messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers a bit of genetic code to cells — in effect, a recipe to make the surface protein (known as spike) on the SARS-2 virus. The proteins made with the mRNA instructions activate the immune system, teaching it to see the spike protein as foreign and develop antibodies and other immunity weapons with which to fight it.
Hospitals across the country received millions of vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and immediately put them to use. As the U.S. death toll topped 300,000 in that month, it was convenient that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Keep in mind that in the initial roll-out of vaccine, individuals are unlikely to be offered a choice of which vaccine they want. Supplies are too scarce. The vaccine available at the place where you are being vaccinated is the one you’ll get.
Is there a difference between the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine & Moderna vaccine?
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a collaboration between a U.S. pharmaceutical giant and a German biotechnology company. It has been authorized for use for people aged 16 and older and is said to offer up to 95 percent protection and is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by US regulators.
Because the vaccine has to be kept at extremely low temperatures, the vials are stored in dry ice-cooled packages as they are whisked around the country. GPS-enabled thermal sensors are also being used to track the temperature of shipments as they are delivered.
The roll-out comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the country. With the vaccine being administered to various healthcare workers, including first responders and medical professionals such as doctors and nurses.
Moderna’s vaccine has been cleared for use in people 18 and older, though the company is now testing its vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds.
Read more information on the vaccine here.
Success rate of both vaccines & how they are being used.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have shown astonishing — and essentially equivalent — degrees of efficacy, at least in the early stages after vaccination.
As stated earlier, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offers up to 95 percent protection. The Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, after the second dose. The vaccine’s efficacy appeared to be slightly lower in people 65 and older, but during a presentation to the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee in December, the company explained that the numbers could have been influenced by the fact there were few cases in that age group in the trial. The vaccine appeared to be equally effective across different ethnic and racial groups.
More information regarding the difference in vaccines can be read here.
Both the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines require two shots: a priming dose, followed by a booster shot. The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days; for the Pfizer vaccine, it’s 21 days.
Each dose of Pfizer’s contains 30 micrograms of vaccine. Moderna went with a much larger dose of vaccine, 100 micrograms. It means the company is using a little more than three times as much vaccine per person as Pfizer is. And yet, they aren’t getting better results. The government’s vaccine development program, formerly called Operation Warp Speed, has asked Moderna to test if it could lower the dosage of its vaccine without eroding the vaccine’s protection.
Can we trust the effectivity of the Covid-19 vaccines?
According to an article published by Yahoo! News, another study released Monday underscored the remarkable effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. This same article provided statistics that revealed how effective the vaccine has been, even with variants emerging.
While one publication posted by NY Times says that multiple studies have suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are about five times less effective against the variant, other research by a group of prominent public health experts wrote in USA Today that all seven vaccines that have undergone large trials “appear to be 100 percent effective for serious complications.”
In that same Yahoo! article, public health experts in Scotland “examined data on all 5.4 million residents of Scotland, including the million-plus who had received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.” The experts found that “getting the first dose reduced the risk of hospitalization by up to 85 percent and 94 percent, respectively, after four weeks — even as a new, more transmissible variant became dominant.”
This study apparently matches findings from Israel and other areas around the world that the vaccine is proving to be incredibly effective at preventing serious infections, hospitalization, and death, apparently even transmission.
Read more information regarding the vaccine and public downplay of the success here.
Should you get the vaccine even if you’ve already had Covid?
According to an article published by the NY Times, studies suggest that people who have had the virus should still get a single vaccine dose. Doing this can apparently increase antibody levels in those who have recovered from the coronavirus.
Research suggests that for these people just one dose of the vaccine is enough to turbocharge their antibodies and destroy the coronavirus — and even some more infectious variants.
The results of these new studies are consistent with the findings of two others published over the past few weeks. Taken together, the research suggests that people who have had Covid-19 should be immunized — but a single dose of the vaccine may be enough.
An immunologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle said that just one shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine amplified the amount of antibodies in the blood of people who have had Covid-19 by a thousandfold.
Flush with antibodies, samples from all of the participants could neutralize not only B.1.351, but also the coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic in 2003.
What are the side effects of either/both vaccines?
An article on StatNews reports the side effects of both vaccines. The most common side effects are:
- injection site pain
- muscle pain, and
- joint pain.
Some people in the clinical trials have reported fever and some side effects are more common after the second dose. Younger adults who have more robust immune systems also reported more side effects than older adults.
It’s noted that these side effects are a sign of an immune system kicking into gear and do not signal that the vaccine is unsafe. To date there are no serious, long-term side effects associated with receipt of these vaccines, which will be closely monitored as their use expands.
There have been reports of severe allergic reactions. On rare occasions, the vaccines might trigger anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction. People who develop anaphylaxis must be treated with epinephrine — the drug in EpiPens — and may need to be hospitalized to ensure their airways remain open.
The CDC says people should be monitored for 15 minutes after getting a Covid-19 shot, and 30 minutes if they have a history of severe allergies.
Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, led another of the new studies, which showed that people who have had Covid-19 and received one dose of a vaccine experienced more severe side effects from the inoculation and had more antibodies compared with those who had not been infected before.
The CDC recommends that those who are pregnant or lactating should make the choice of whether to get vaccinated — a more permissive stance than has been taken in some countries, which have said people who are pregnant should not be vaccinated with these vaccines.
More statistics on Covid vaccines can be read here.
Staying safe with the vaccine and Covid variants as we progress through 2021.
The new coronavirus apparently mutates much more slowly, but there are now multiple variants of the virus that seem to have evolved to be more contagious or to thwart the immune system.
The new study may provide clues on how to make a single vaccine that stimulates the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies that can destroy all variants of the coronavirus.
Without such a vaccine, scientists will need to tweak the vaccines every time the virus changes significantly… a process that is both tedious and not practical.
While some states are lifting the mask mandate, experts recommend keeping masks on. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says that masks may be one of the last parts of the pandemic to go away.
Fauci stated on CNN that “we will be approaching a degree of normality” in the fall, but the headlines note he also said it’s “possible” people may still have to wear face masks in 2022.