As coronavirus cases are still ongoing in the United States and everywhere else globally, many hope that this would end soon. That hope was answered by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech when they announced that the preliminary result on the vaccine they’re developing showed more than 90% efficacy rate.
That news gave hope to many people, although it has been said that it wouldn’t be coming to rescue people yet for at least a few months. However, back on December 11, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that they have officially approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, although how they’re going to distribute is still unclear.
But many people are still wondering about the vaccine, like how it works and how it will be administered.
That said, here are some things you need to know about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
What’s inside the vaccine, and how does it work?
The active ingredient of the vaccine is the messenger RNA. It carries instructions on how the body should fight against the virus by letting the body make spike protein. This spike protein will then get recognized by the body’s immune system, making it learn how to develop protection against COVID-19. The mRNA itself does not come from the virus and does not interact with the DNA itself.
Here’s an in-depth explanation of how the vaccine works. When foreign substances enter the body like germs and viruses, they will invade the body by attacking the cells and multiplying them. This invasion is called infection. If the foreign substances are something new to the immune system, it will take our body several days to make new tools to combat the invasion.
After a successful purging, the immune system will remember what it learned from the experience, making it more well-equipped when the virus manages to enter the body again. That said, the vaccine itself will help the immune system learn how to make the virus-fighting tools it needed for COVID-19 naturally.
Unlike other vaccines that use a deadly virus to imitate an infection of the body, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not. The vaccine will use the body’s messenger RNA to help the immune system recognize COVID-19, so it will learn how to combat it when infection arises. Thus, people who will be vaccinated will not get COVID-19, as some people fear.
Is the vaccine safe?
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there were no safety concerns identified during its testing to 43,448 participants back in the trial. Also, there were no enhanced diseases that are caused by the vaccine from the recipients.
Furthermore, the CDC also stated that people who have experienced severe reactions from past vaccines or injected drugs can still be vaccinated but should discuss first with their doctors all the possibilities when they get vaccinated. Also, after being vaccinated, the person should be monitored 30 minutes after injection.
In terms of side effects, the common side effects are due to your body’s immune response to the vaccine. Common side effects are fatigue, sore arm/s, and headache in some patients. However, these side effects usually go away on their own after 24 hours.
Also, it’s important to note that it will take your body weeks before getting the immunity against COVID-19. This means that if you got infected with the virus a few days before or after the vaccination, the vaccine hasn’t yet fully provided the protection the body needed from the virus.
Does the immunity last for long?
As for now, it’s impossible to know. Only time will tell if the immunity will last for a long time, including other COVID-19 variants. However, if the immunity doesn’t last long, researchers would have to use annual vaccines, just like we do for flu.
The data appears that the vaccine can protect 94% of people over the age of 65, and the phase three trial data suggest that the vaccine is effective in all people of ages. Early results suggest that the vaccine is also effective against the new COVID-19 variant from the UK.
If the vaccine is approved worldwide by different governing bodies, it will be difficult for the vaccine to be distributed because of the conditions required to store them. A lot of other vaccines need at least a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius for proper storage.
However, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius for storage, which poses problems in distribution. However, with the cooperation of the authorities and producers, this problem would be solved eventually.
Although people worldwide still need to wait for a little bit of time to receive the vaccine, there’s a lot to be hopeful for with the new vaccine. However, many people are still asking about some of the aspects of the vaccine and how it will be distributed worldwide.
Fortunately, governments and health institutions all over the world are doing their best to appease the fears of the people about the new vaccine and hopefully keep them updated on when they will be receiving it.
For now, while things are still uncertain, it’s best to keep ourselves healthy by regularly taking the necessary medications and vitamins. While we’re at it, knowing how to lower the cost of such drugs will save us some money and stress brought by rising commodities.