COVID VACCINE:- Vaccination is a simple and safe way to prevent disease. It uses our own body’s natural defences to prevent disease. Vaccination trains your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when exposed to a disease. However, as vaccines contain only killed or weakened form of viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications. Most vaccines are given by injection but some are given orally or sprayed into the nose.

Will Covid -19 vaccination provide long term protection?

It is still not clear. However, a minimum of one-year protection is expected. Two injections are expected to give a sufficient immune response to prevent coronavirus infection. It is encouraging to note that those recovering from coronavirus infection do not get reinfected. How much is this immunity or how long will it remain is not clear.

Will other vaccines protect people from Covid -19?

Currently, there is no evidence that other vaccines will protect you from the colon- a virus infection. However, scientists are studying if the presently used BCG vaccine against tuberculosis can be used against coronavirus infection. Patients with asthma, COPD or Di Obesity, cancer survivors, cardiovascular diseases are likely to be susceptible against swine flu or bacterial pneumonia, hence they are advised to have this additional vaccine.

What types ofCovid -19 vaccines are being developed? How do they work?

Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been weakened or inactivated so that it generates an immune response but does not cause diseases are the basic vaccines. Protein-based vaccines that use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the coronavirus and safely generate an immune response are slightly more advanced. Viral vector vaccines that use a virus that has been genetically engineered are being developed. The most important cutting edge technology is RNA or DNA vaccines that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself prompts an immune response.

How quickly could Covid – 19 vaccines stop the pandemic?

The impact of vaccination will depend on several factors. These would depend upon the effectiveness of the vaccine, how quickly they are approved manufactured and developed and how many people get vaccinated. Like other vaccinations, this is not likely to be 100% protective. Precautions against the spread of coronavirus infection would continue to be followed.

What is the likely cost of the vaccine in India?

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has suggested that it may sell Covishield, the vaccine being developed by Oxford University, for around `500 per shot in the market as against `220 per shot it will cost to the government.

What about Covaxin Covid vaccine?

The third phase of the trial of India-made Covaxin has started in Haryana recently. Covaxin is being developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research. The Moderna Covid vaccine and the Pfizer Covid vaccine are likely to announce their results of very large trials in the next few days. They are likely to be effective by more than 95%.

Who should be the first to get the vaccine?

Rather than vaccinating all people in one country, we need to vaccinate some people in all countries. Elderly people, healthcare workers, paramedics, security people and individuals with poor immune status should receive the vaccine in the first phase.

What are the challenges of vaccination in our country?

To vaccinate all 130 crore people is a daunting task. The cost, the availability of vaccines in such large numbers, maintaining the cold chain in remote deserts, hills, smaller villages, forest areas, the probable minor side effects and then the negative publicity and the per- sonal and religious prejudices are going to be daunting- ing challenges. But if you look at our past experiences, we have had successfully carried out vaccination against polio, smallpox and many other infections. Hence, vaccination programme against coronavirus is likely to succeed if we cooperate with the authorities.

Would the vaccine be safe in all age groups, in pregnancy or in patients with other active infections?

Scientists are in the pre-preliminary phase of these challenges. In the next few months, the results of all major vaccine trials are expected. As per our previous experience, it is likely that a majority of the population will be benefitted. However, there would be some specific precautions in selected cases. We had the HIV, then Ebola, then swine flu, Hantavirus in some countries, Brucella in China and now the coronavirus!

How long will these cycles continue?

There has been no specific solution. The population at large should be geared to maintain personal hygiene and good health-related habits. Wearing a mask and hand hygiene itself may prevent many diseases. The race between the second or third wave of coronavirus infection and the availability of a vaccine against the virus has already begun. Hopefully, the vaccine will come early enough to help us prevent this avoidable infection. Till then physical distancing, hand washing and wearing an N95 mask is the only way.


Categories : COVID-19

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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