The coronavirus vaccine. Protect yourself. Protect us all

The coronavirus vaccine is one of the hottest issues nowadays and it is very medicine-related. My medical specialty is family medicine, so I know how important it is to explain our work. In this post I will tell you how the most relevant vaccines have been developed, how safe they are and why it is important to get vaccinated.

The development of the vaccine

As you know, when we talk about the covid vaccine, we actually talk about various vaccines developed by different laboratories. The vaccines aproved by the European Medicines Agency are developed by Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Two of these three vaccines use the Messenger RNA or mRNA. This is the material that our cells read to generate proteins. mRNA is very fragile and complex, so the vaccine needs to be ultra frozen. It is very efficient, because it gets directly into the cells.

The final result of the process is the creation of the famous antibodies, that mark the virus and avoid them from entering into our cells.

The vaccine by Oxford University and AstraZeneca uses other kind of technology. It takes a part of the SARS-CoV-2: the proteins it uses to enter into our body. They have been introduced into a regular adenovirus that only causes colds: ChAdOx1.

This modified adenovirus enters into our cells and introduces its DNA into the core. However, the adenovirus is modified so it does not replicate. This way, its effect is smaller and our body protects us from it to avoid the worst symptoms. 

There are up to 20 vaccines that stand in the last phase of development, like Sputnik V (Russia), CanSino (China) or those developed by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. All of them show promising results, but they have not yet been approved in Europe.

The safety of the vaccine

We can say with no doubts that these vaccines are among the safest in history. Why? First, because the tests they have passed, the most populated ones. Second, because of the millions of people already vaccinated in the world.

In the United Kingdom, more than 10 million people have recieved the vaccine, while in ISrael more than 60 % of population is already immunized.

The development and vaccination have been astonishing fast, true, but this is due to the evolution of medicine in the last years, the emergency aroused by this crisis and the cooperation of laboratories and government. This cooperation is faster today than ever thanks to the technologies of information. Not a single security step has been overlooked.

The importance of the vaccine

I am sure that you have heard another concept: herd immunity. As the WHO states, the herd immunity is the “indirect protection against an infectious disease achieved when a population has become immune”.

The share of the population needed changes depending on the disease. The COVID 19’s has not yet been determined but, for instance, in polio it is of 80 % and in measles, it is 90%

This is why it is so important that as many people as possible is vaccinated against this disease.

Once you get the shot, remember that you must keep following the safety rules to avoid infection. Not developing symptoms does not mean that you can not transmit the virus so the masks, the hand gel and the social distance will still live with us for, at least, some months.

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