How is it possible to develop a safe vaccine in less than a year?
Most vaccines use weakened or inactivated versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response to create antibodies. However, mRNA vaccines take advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins that trigger an immune response and build immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. In other words, the vaccine is not harmful because since it sends the body a message to make only a part of the “spike protein” that is unique to SARS-CoV-2 the person vaccinated is not harmed, the cell’s nucleus is untouched, and their DNA is unmodified.
This fast-track was possible because the mRNA knowledge previously used for outbreaks of SARS (2002) and MERS (2012), which are 80 percent identical to the SARS and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, according to the NIH.
Initially, officials like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci estimated a vaccine could arrive in at least 12 to 18 months. However, due to the unprecedented outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became necessary to fund several researchers and studies in early 2020. By April 2020 more than 254 therapies and 95 vaccines related to Covid-19 had been explored. The first CDC approved COVID-19 vaccines use the mRNA (Messenger RNA) a safe and rigorously tested technology that has been studied for more than a decade.
Does one vaccine work better than another?
Currently, the FDA has approved two vaccines for COVID-19 with two others expected by the end of January 2021. Both attack the virus using mRNA technology and both require two doses.
Early FDA studies suggest that the Moderna vaccine has a 94.1% efficacy rate preventing COVID-19 illness 14 days after the second dose, and 86% effective in people 65 and older. Pfizer showed a 95% efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection, starting 7 days after the second administered dose with equally protective rates across age, racial and ethnic groups. The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days: and 21 days for Pfizer. Moderna’s must be shipped at -4 Fahrenheit while Pfizer’s requires special ultracold freezers necessary to ship and store at -94 Fahrenheit.
The reason for the difference between the two vaccine’s storing temperatures is the lipids or fats, use to surround the mRNA therefore Moderna’s vaccines may be more stable because less refrigeration is required.
Are Black medical professionals in support of the vaccine?
The Black Coalition Against COVID-19 and other D.C. based groups created a COVID-19 Prevention Network to recruit people for vaccine trials that would ultimately ensure blacks are equitably considered in the vaccine process.
Additionally, eight prominent doctors have written a love letter to the African American community in response to COVID-19. Leon McDougle, president of the National Medical Association; David Carlisle, president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Martha A. Dawson, a doctor of nursing practice who is president of the National Black Nurses Association; Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University; James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College; Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of Morehouse School of Medicine; Randall Morgan, president of The Cobb Institute; and Reed Tuckson, a founding member of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 have asked the Black community to keep them accountable for protecting the health of the black community with the following comments –“We affirm that Black Lives Matter. We love you. And as Black health professionals, we have a higher calling to stand for racial justice and to fight for health equity,” the group said. “We plead with you to wear your masks, continue social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding indoor events until vaccines are widely available.”
Gary Gibbons director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, specifically campaigns for people to trust the COVID-19 vaccine. He reminds us, amid the historical atrocities committed against the black community that “throughout this country, research scientists and medical experts of color are in authority ensuring our best interests.”
The coalition of 100 Black Men of America is currently working with NIH advocating the importance for black folks to take the vaccines as they become available.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine even if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Getting COVID-19 might offer some natural protection or immunity from reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19. But it’s not clear how long this protection lasts. Because reinfection is possible and COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications, it’s recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you’ve had COVID-19, wait until 90 days after your diagnosis to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Can I stop taking safety precautions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Experts want to learn more about the protection that a COVID-19 vaccine provides and how long immunity lasts before changing safety recommendations. Factors such as how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities will also affect these recommendations.
In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following these precautions for avoiding infection with the COVID-19 virus:
- Avoid close contact. This means avoiding close contact (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms. Also, keep a safe distance between yourself and others. This is especially important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.
- Wear cloth face coverings in public places. Cloth face coverings offer extra protection in places such as the grocery store, where it’s difficult to avoid close contact with others. Surgical masks may be used if available. N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-sharing if you’re sick.