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February 24, 2021 Wednesday 11:06:12 AM IST

The Shield is Ready

Health Monitor

The Oxford University reported that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended the conditional authorisation of the ChAd0x1 nCov-19 coronavirus vaccine developed by it in partnership with AstraZeneca.  Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology, and Chief Investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: ‘It is excellent news that the EMA has approved use of the SARS CoV-2 vaccine first produced in Oxford. This decision paves the way to more widespread use of the vaccine to protect people against COVID-19 and gain control of the pandemic.’

Apart from Moderna, Pfizer BNio-NTech, University of Oxford-Astra Zeneca, there are currently more than 200 additional vaccine candidates (56 in clinical and 166 in pre-clinical development) under development, with many in clinical trials. A number of these vaccine candidates are in Phase III clinical trials – the final step before a vaccine is approved, according to UNICEF data.

Dr Pradeep Vasudevan, Doctor at National Health Service, UK said many health professionals including him and his wife had the first dose of the Covid vaccine Pfizer Bio-NTech a month ago and did not report any side effects. "I would request each one of you to spread the message of Covid vaccine and ensure that everyone take the two required doses of the vaccine," he said.

Dr Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of Psychiatry at Pushpagiri Medical College, Kerala, India echoed the same sentiment as he posted the photo of vaccination being taken on him. "It's painless, effortless and there are no unnecessary hassles."

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines stimulate the human body's own protective immune responses so that, if a person is infected with a pathogen, the immune system quickly acts to prevent the spread of it in the body.  In this way, vaccines mimic natural infection but without actually causing the person to become sick. In general, most vaccines do not completely prevent infection but do prevent the infection from spreading within the body and from causing disease.

Apart from traditional vaccines which act by introducing a weakened form of an infectious agent that allows our immune system to buid a memory on it, new types of RNA and DNA vaccines have been developed. Such vaccines instead of introducing antigens (a substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies), they give our body the genetic code it needs to allow our immune system to produce the antigen itself.

Preventing Transmission

Many vaccines can also prevent transmission, potentially leading to herd protection whereby unvaccinated people are protected from infection by the vaccinated people around them because they have less chance of exposure to the virus. “We are still learning whether or not the current Covid-19 vaccines prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” according to John Hopkins University, USA.

Side effects

The most common side effects of both vaccines are what is called reactogenicity. These are expected side effects and caused by local inflammation (redness and swelling) at the site of injection or more generalized reactions such as fever and muscle aches. For both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, these reactogenic side effects were mild to moderate, occurred up to two days after vaccination, and do not have any long-term consequences, scientists at John Hopkins University observed.

Vaccine for Children

While children are less likely to develop severe disease and die from Covid-19, there are several reasons for ensuring that eventually there is a vaccine that is safe and effective for children. Although rare, some children may develop severe disease or die from Covid-19. Children have also developed a severe inflammatory syndrome, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Children may be important transmitters of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccinating them with a vaccine that reduces transmission could be important in controlling the pandemic. Finally, having a safe vaccine for children will build confidence towards opening up schools and learning centers for in-person educational processes.

India Record

According to India's Ministry of Health, the country achieved a major milestone by vaccinating 3 million people in just 13 days, considered a world record. In India. Covishield of Serum Institute of India (under arrangement with University of Oxford and AstraZeneca) and indigenously made Covaxin of Bharat Biotech have been approved for use.

India began the largest immunisation exercise when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched it on 16th January 2021. Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister urged everyone to counter the vested campaigns of untruth and misinformation against the Covid vaccine. He said people should follow health and ministry of information and broadcasting agencies such as PIB for authentic information.

Sreekumar Raghavan

Sreekumar Raghavan is an award-winning business journalist with over two and a half decades of experience in print, magazine and online journalism. A Google-certified Digital Marketing Professional, he specialises in content development for web, digital marketing and training, media relations and related areas. He is the recipient of MP Narayana Pillai Award for Journalism in 2001 and holds a bachelors degree in Economics and Masters Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kerala University.





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