With the COVID-19 continuing to impact our lives in 2021, we have more questions than answers. The vaccines are rolled out throughout the world out of clinical trials. Here we want to break it down on the COVID-19, types of vaccines, and how it works.
COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that shares similarities with SARS, MERS, and other common cold variants of coronavirus. The common route of entry of SARS-CoV-2 into our body is through the nasal passage. Aerosols or droplets containing the virus carried by air reaches our respiratory system through our body pores in our face. Upon arrival, the viruses interact with epithelial cells in the respiratory cells at the port of entry through their spike proteins. The majority of our internal cells express ACE2 a protein that facilitates the virus entry. Because of the widespread presence of ACE2, the COVID-19 has several ramifications in the pathology beyond the respiratory system in humans. This includes blood clots, cardiac dysfunction kidney diseases, and even testicular malfunction.
The mRNA vaccines are novel and were expediated to become a pioneer in the vaccine race for COVID-19. The mRNA vaccines have just the genetic information for the viral spike protein that interacts with human cells while the SARS-COV2 infection. The genetic material is internalized upon vaccination and the viral protein is expressed by our muscle cells. The new protein in our body is recognized by our immune cells to create immunity. A booster dose within a month of the first dose makes sure that the memory immune cells are formed to create a potentially long-term memory. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna lead the mRNA vaccine race while Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine took a conventional recipe of vaccine for COVID-19.
The ingredients in the mRNA vaccines consist of three main categories. The active ingredient mRNA (ribonucleic acid), Lipids, carrier of mRNA and sugar, saline solution that maintains and buffers the vaccine solution for optimal delivery. All these ingredients are tested to be safe in clinical trials.
While the Canadian role out of vaccine is slow in late December, the federal government intends to expedite the process faster. Because of the nature of the vaccine storage conditions (Ultra-low temperatures), Pfizer vaccine will be available only to the provinces. Moderna vaccine can be stored in common freezers that would facilitate distribution to remote areas including territories.
Let us talk about age and allergies in getting vaccines. Since Pfizer vaccine was enrolling people from age 16 and older during clinical trials, it is deemed to be safe for those age group and similarly, Moderna enrolled at age of 18 and above. These current vaccines can be administered to minors once it is estimated to be safe in children.
Allergies were reported in a small set of people who received any of the vaccines available for COVID-19. These allergies are on a small scale and presented in people with previous allergic history. This suggests a diverse reaction of our immune system to the novel protein that is produced in our body after vaccination. The majority of the allergies reported are from the booster dose. The booster dose is given to augment the immunity against the viral spike protein. Yet in a few people, this immune reaction results in anaphylaxis. Before receiving the vaccine, the doctors’ screen for any allergies with people.
There is no easy way to cross the dark tunnel during this pandemic, but there is a light end of the tunnel such as vaccines and an expert treatment plan that is in place to decrease the mortality of people. We are living in a historic moment that is to be written as a success story with more sacrifice.