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Research Discussion on the Effectiveness and Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines
The way the world greeted the year 2020 is quite unforgettable. There were disasters happening left and right just as the year entered and then there was the COVID-19 pandemic. To say that the year 2020 is an eventful year is quite an understatement because the number of extraordinary things that occurred could not fit on a single page. As the number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus continues to rise, scientists hastened the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines that will hopefully protect the world’s population from getting infected. This research paper will discuss COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines currently in circulation.
Recap on the Global Spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 is a viral disease that emerged in Wuhan, China last December 2019. At first, only the city’s residents have been infected but it soon spread to other locations in the country as Wuhan is a transportation district. It was not long before the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the world and even managed to spread to all seven continents in less than a year after it was discovered.
The COVID-19 virus can easily be transmitted from one person to another as it can be transmitted via the droplets coming from an individual’s respiratory system – which is why everyone is encouraged to wear facemasks. Aside from that, COVID-19 is airborne and is able to contaminate objects and surfaces. Maintaining clean hygiene is especially important and washing hands properly is also encouraged. One should avoid touching the face, specifically the eyes, nose, and mouth, especially when he has gone outdoors.
The COVID-19 virus forced countries to enforce strict lockdowns to hamper the spread of the virus. Because of COVID-19, economies have crashed and the world even witnessed a bear market breaking the record of more than a decade of experiencing a bull market. The industries of tourism and services took the hardest blow because of the enforced lockdown. While some countries have already recovered or are on their way to boosting their economy, there are still quite a number of countries whose economies are still crippled and do not seem to be making significant progress on the matter.
And if that is not enough, the COVID-19 virus started mutating a few months ago and those mutations have caused new variants of COVID-19 to appear. There are three major variants caused by the mutation of the COVID-19 virus cells that are found or discovered in the United Kingdom, Africa, and Brazil. These variants behave differently from each other, albeit similar, but their common denominator is the spread rate of COVID-19 is significantly higher compared t when it was first discovered. Some of the variants even have the ability to evade the human’s natural immune response, thus making an individual even more at risk.
As of writing, there are more than 114 million active cases of those infected with COVID-19. It has spread to 223 countries – or territories – all over the world. Literally, no continent is safe from the COVID-19 virus. Even if most infected people manage to recover, 15 months after COVID-19 emerged in China, the virus has taken the lives of 2.5 million people already. This is the reason why the production of COVID-19 vaccines was hastened and rolled out the moment the clinical trials produced fairly positive results.
About the COVID-19 Vaccines
Scientists around the world are doing their best to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine in record time. The COVID-19 vaccines are designed to teach the body’s immune system to make the body’s immune system recognize and block the COVID-19 virus. There are different types of vaccines being manufactured, but all with the same goal or effect: to protect the world from getting infected with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 types of vaccines still in development or have been released are weakened virus vaccines, protein-based vaccines, viral vector vaccines, and RNA and DNA vaccines which are all able to generate an immune response against COVID-19.
The weakened virus vaccines have a form of inactivated COVID-19 virus in them, which does not worry people as it has no ability to infect a person with the COVID-19 virus. Instead, it produces an immune response against the virus.
Protein-based vaccines are COVID-19 vaccines designed to mimic the spiky shell of a COVID-19 virus cell and are also made up of protein which safely generates an immune response.
The viral vector vaccines use a safe virus to produce COVID-19 proteins to generate an immune response and not to cause disease.
Finally, RNA and DNA vaccines use RNA and DNA that are genetically engineered to produce a protein that is able to generate an immune response safely.
Benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine
There are doubts and fears surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines because it has been developed in just a year or so and the typical vaccine development process takes about 10-15 years. But of course, people today are living in a pandemic-stricken world so scientists are pushed to do the unprecedented. They have significantly sped up the development and deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines so that they may reach as many people in the world as soon as possible.
So what are the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and why should people agree to get vaccinated? First of all, the COVID-19 vaccines had been manufactured with the intention to develop an immune response that will make the human body block or fight the virus. Once there is an immune response, the chances of an individual being infected with COVID-19 are reduced. Getting vaccinated means a person will have protection even if he has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
Not only will getting vaccinated protect you, but it will also protect people around you. This is because if a person cannot get infected with the COVID-19 virus, chances are that person will not be a carrier nor be able to infect someone else. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is of critical importance for health workers and those that are highly exposed to the virus. Households who have compromised – elderly and have existing medical conditions – members are also highly encouraged to get vaccinated to protect those who have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
Before a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and recommended for use, there are strict protections that manufacturers must follow to ensure that the vaccines are safe for use. There are rigorous clinical trials and regulatory reviews that a vaccine must go through to be proven safe and effective. Some tests are even specifically designed to detect any possible safety concerns or side effects that may arise after being vaccinated.
What are the known effects of the COVID-19 Vaccines?
As mentioned earlier, even before a vaccine is deployed, its possible side effects had been weeded out. But for some, that does not seem enough to put out their doubt about the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness. Some have been complaining about health problems that have suddenly made themselves known after they were vaccinated. It has to be taken note of that none of the reported incidents have proved to be related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the actual side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine that people should expect is what people normally feel after getting vaccinated. One may have an onset of headache, fever, chills, nausea, muscle aches, fatigue, soreness, redness, and swelling at the site of the injection. These are all common side effects for people who get vaccinated and are usually treated as a minor inconvenience as an individual may still be able to go about their day despite feeling these.
Feeling these side effects should reassure an individual – instead of scare them – that the vaccine is actually working. It is a sign that the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to stimulate the person’s immune response and will then begin producing antibodies that will protect the person from the COVID-19 virus. However, if one does not feel these side effects, there is still no need to worry. The COVID-19 vaccine is still working, it is just that that person’s body is having a different reaction or lack of reaction thereof.
To further quench a skeptic’s doubts about the effectivity of the above-stated vaccines against the new variants of COVID-19 that appeared, these COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have proved to be effective against the variants found in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa. The variants do not appear to alter the effectiveness of the vaccines.
People should be reminded that even if they had already been administered a vaccine against COVID-19, the safety precautions of wearing facemasks, frequent proper washing of hands, physical distancing, avoidance of crowded places, and having good ventilation should still be observed. This is because the duration of immunity against COVID-19 that the vaccines provide is still unknown and is still being studied and observed.
Scientists are working day in and day out to produce the vaccines so the most people can do is research and read more about it in order to extinguish their doubts about whether the vaccine can truly help or not. COVID-19 vaccines are already on a rollout in some countries and so one must be wary of social media posts that tell about the effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. Always remember to educate oneself through verified sources to avoid misinformation and ignorance.
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National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. (2021a, January 5). Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html
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Shmerling, R. H. (2021, February 28). COVID-19 vaccines: Safety, side effects — and coincidence. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/covid-19-vaccines-safety-side-effects-and-coincidence-2021020821906
World Health Organization. (2021a, January 8). Who can take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine? https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-can-take-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19--vaccine
World Health Organization. (2021b, January 26). The Moderna COVID-19 (mRNA-1273) vaccine: what you need to know. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-moderna-covid-19-mrna-1273-vaccine-what-you-need-to-know
World Health Organization. (2021c, February 19). Q&A Detail: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines