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8 questions about the Covid-19 vaccine

Everyone is talking about the 2020 pandemic and the vaccine that will hopefully end it at the beginning of 2021. 

I have been following this subject, and I have been asking myself several questions.

  1. When will it be available?
  2. Will it be safe?
  3. Which are the side effects:
  4. How does the vaccine work?
  5. How much will every country receive?
  6. How will it be transported?
  7. How will it be stored?
  8. How will it be administered?

I searched the answers for some of them. I will gladly leave them here for anyone interested to read.

When will it be available?

Moderna, Biontech, Pfizer are the companies that are already delivering vaccines today in a limited number to various countries like the USA, Canada, UK, EU, etc. 

These countries fully approved the vaccine or gave the green light for emergency use. In general, the strategy is that the essential workers will receive the vaccine to help them fight and support the front line against covid. Next in line should be the most vulnerable categories – elders, people with different conditions. 

By the end of 2021, everybody expects to eliminate the virus or at least to contain it a non-important level.

Will it be safe?

Yes! and No! Let me explain!

Each vaccine goes through a series of tests and optimizations and gets approval by national or international independent institutions like the FDA (in the USA). These institutions must verify the results and issue the approval certificate only for those who are safe for the people. 

It usually takes two or more years for a vaccine to be developed and distributed to those who need it. 

So yes! The vaccines are safe!

But the usual roadmap for vaccine approval starts with intensive research for many years before reaching the testing phases. But in the case of covid, the timeline is massively improved because of the origin of the virus.

Coronaviruses were the root for the last flu pandemic, as well as for SARS and MARS viruses. Because of this, the scientists have already done a great job that now comes in handy. 

For this reason, the developers of the vaccines were able to accelerate the testing phases and reach approval in different countries. 

It does not mean that all the bases are covered – making the vaccines 100% sure. 

So no! Nobody can assure you that there are zero side effects! It does mean that the probability of side effects is high, but the consequences should be minimal.

Which are the side effects?

There are 64 vaccines in different phases of the development at this moment. Three of them are in use (at the date of the article). For two of them, the manufacturers have issued the side effects list that, for the moment, does not raise strong doubts.

Pfizer/Biontech: It frequently caused short-lived fatigue, fever, and muscle aches.

Moderna: In the arm where you got the shot: pain, swelling, redness. Throughout the body: chills, tiredness, headache.

More about them: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/Pfizer-BioNTech.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/Moderna.html

How does it work?

There are four main types of covid vaccines used to deliver the information needed by the immune system to recognize the covid-19:

  • mRNA – it uses a molecule enveloped in lipid nanoparticles;
  • adenovirus – it uses a virus that carries the message to the cells without replicating itself;
  • protein – it uses harmless parts of the virus;
  • inactivated – the vaccine is using inactivated coronavirus cells (that are unable to duplicate).

At this moment, the most efficient vaccine is mRNA based with over 90% efficiency against covid19.

More details: 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/health/moderna-covid-19-vaccine.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/health/oxford-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/how-they-work.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/health/sinovac-covid-19-vaccine.html

How much will every country receive?

Every country has its engagement for the necessary doses, and each one will receive the vaccine in many stages due to its high demand and low production capacity. Still, by the end of the year 2021, all the orders should be delivered.

If you want to find more information, the New York Times has created a tracker that is up to date.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

How will it be transported? How will it be stored? How will it be administered?

Most of the covid vaccines require more than one shot – usually 2 – during a 10-20 days interval. The ones in use do require special freezers for transportation and storage. 

Transportation from the manufacturers to each administration point requires a high level of preparation:

  • special freezers (-80-60 celsius degrees)
  • fast planes
  • access to dedicated airport lanes
  • special storing locations to achieve the maximum storage life
  • on point logistic services to deliver it in the shortest time
  • security

Once delivered to the administration point, the vaccine will be used at room temperature and diluted with saline solution before injected.

Final Words

The vaccine will take time to be distributed to all the persons who want it so please, stay safe, care about you and your family and wear a mask in public spaces, wash your hands and keep distance.

It is upon us to keep it under control and return as soon as possible to our lost habits.