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  • Loretta MacInnes

The Covid-19 Vaccine – To Have or Have Not?

Well this has certainly caused a lot of discussion in my family. We are all excited to get it, but also a bit worried about getting it! Is that how you feel?

I’ve done my usual research into the Covid-19 vaccines currently available and I am a bit flummoxed by some of the conspiracy theories that are floating around. I mean, do people seriously believe that there are nanobots in the vaccine that will control the population? If so, it’s certainly an elaborate way of achieving it! But there are serious concerns about the vaccines for Covid that are legitimate and logical.

First of all, any vaccine that is just entering the population is, in its very nature, new and must meet regulatory approval standards. To date there are three vaccines that have been approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the fight against Covid-19. This approval is currently in the form of a temporary license for emergency use, as there hasn’t been time to grant the full Marketing Authorisations, and obviously the need to fight this virus is urgent. I will keep an eye on this and update when possible. There is alot of information about these vaccines online, and the NHS have information for both the public and health professionals. If you want more detail about the trials and the approval processes, I would recommend reading the information for professionals as it goes beyond the feel-good headline statements. And breaking news – there is now a fourth vaccine, Novavax, that shows a high level of resistance against the virus and is awaiting approval by the MHRA.

In the case of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (OAZ) vaccine, the initial trial results that have been published and are in the public domain (comment and published report available: The Lancet). It's interesting to note that AstraZeneca has been the only company to publish trial data for public viewing. While the published results seem to indicate that further trials would be beneficial in some areas, the overall picture is that this vaccine will reduce the severity of the disease if you get it, and may prevent you from getting it at all.

The trial data looks very good from what I have seen for all three (now four!) vaccines (however, this is just based on summaries found on the web, not on peer reviewed trial data, with the exception of the paper by OAZ). If I had an option my initial reaction would have been to ask for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, as it is based on a more traditional vaccine development method. However, the data does indicate that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (and now Novavax) vaccines are slightly more effective at fighting Covid-19, so perhaps I am being a little foolish? On reflection, I think any of the available vaccines would be preferable to not having one as a good level of immunity is better than no immunity at all.

One thing that does concern me though is the dosage regime that Westminster has adopted.. When I first heard that their policy was to give everyone a first dose before starting the second doses, I thought, ‘Wow, what a great idea - get the whole population some level of immunity!’ So I understand the logic. However, when you read the trial protocols (see the information for professionals in the links below) and realise that the effectiveness of the vaccines is based on giving the two vaccine doses at up to 28 days apart for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine, 21 days apart for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and one month (I assume this to mean 30 days) for the Moderna vaccine, (not sure about the Novavax vaccine yet) then the Government’s logic goes out the window:

1. The trials state what the dosage regime should be – they have NOT been tested giving a second dose 12 weeks after the first

2. We have NO IDEA what the effects of such a long gap will be on the effectiveness of any of these vaccines

3. The Government is telling us that we have to carry on wearing masks, maintain social distancing and help keep the NHS safe for the foreseeable future – until at least after our second dose – so what the heck is the point of vaccinating the whole population with one dose and potentially reducing the effectiveness of all three vaccines?

I know health professionals are speaking up about this, but I would like to know what our Specialist Centres are saying.

So to have or have not? In my opinion I am on the side of to HAVE! And all my family is, thank goodness. I just hope that those who choose not to have the vaccine, apart from those who for medical reasons can’t be given it, do not reduce the effectiveness of national immunisation by increasing the likelihood of transmission, or dangerous virus mutations.

Useful Links:

Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine

Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Novavax Vaccine

General Vaccine Information

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