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Issue 17 Out Now

Covid-19 Vaccine: What We Know So Far

The release and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine have divided people as much if not more so than how the government handled this pandemic. Those in favor look forward to ending this pandemic and get back to stimulating the economy. Others, either anti-vaxxers or concerned individuals, are hesitant to take something that feels rushed with no clue as to what is inside. Here is what we know so far about the latest vaccine.

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna: Race to the First Vaccine

In their press release, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced their partnership with BioNTech, a German-based biotechnology company, on April 9, 2020, to create a vaccine that can combat COVID-19 before the end of 2020. It would take years to research, develop, test, get approvals, and distribute millions of doses in normal situations. However, with over 17 million U.S. citizens (74.4 million worldwide) cases and 308,000 plus deaths (almost 2 million worldwide), Covid-19 has been everything but normal.

On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced their approval of the Pfizer/BioTech Covid-19 with their first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) after studies showed the effectiveness rate of 95%.

While a landmark achievement for Pfizer/BioNTech, they are not the monopoly of the product. Cambridge-based biotechnology company Moderna threw their bid in creating a Covid-19 vaccine. Just recently, the mRNA-based product got the stamp of approval from the FDA for EUA. Other competitors include Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, who are still in stage 3 of the process.

What is inside the Covid-19 Vaccine, and How Does It Work?

Like any vaccine, it assists your immune system by creating antibodies to combat the virus and form memories of what to do the next time it enters your system. The Centers and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that most Covid-19 vaccine brands would require two shots (the first one to prepare your immune system for the disease; the second provides the tools for your immune system to fight it). The second one should take place a few weeks after the first shot.

There are different types of Covid-19 vaccines that are either completed or in the works, including:

  • mRNA and DNA: Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine primary substance is the latest technological method in healthcare. Once taken, it tells the cells to create a harmless “spike protein” that resembles the virus itself. The immune recognizes that it shouldn’t belong there and produces antibodies for protection. Afterward, your body knows how to protect itself against Covid-19 if you are affected.

  • Protein Subunit: Inject harmless protein pieces of the virus into our system for your immune system to recognize and create antibodies to fight the virus.

  • Vector: A similar weaker version of a virus that has materials that cause Covid-19. Once inside, it will tell the cells to make copies of the protein. Your immune system creates antibodies and remembers what to do when the virus arrives.

Who will take the Covid-19 Vaccine First?

Those over the age of 16 will be giving the vaccine. With a limited amount, the growing consensus is that healthcare workers will take the vaccine first since they are in a high-risk environment. CDC recommends that along with healthcare workers, people who live in long-term care facilities should have priority.

Is the vaccine safe?

It is too early to tell the long term effects that the vaccine will have. While evaluating whether to approve both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, the FDA discovered side effects, including pain at the injection site, tiredness, joint pain, headaches, and fever.

Time will tell how the vaccines will play their part in 2021 and beyond. What do you think about the vaccine? Do you plan to take it? Comment below your thoughts.

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