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One in four people experience mild side effects from Covishield COVID-19 vaccine: Lancet study

The study also reports a significant decrease of infection rates from 12 to 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer (58 percent reduction) and AstraZeneca (39 percent reduction) vaccines compared to a control group. The drop in infection at least 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer is 69 percent and for AstraZeneca 60 percent, according to the study.

April 28, 2021 / 04:36 PM IST

One in four people experience mild, short lived systemic side effects after receiving either the COVID-19 preventive by Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine -- known as Covishield in India -- with headache, fatigue and tenderness the most common symptoms, according to a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The researchers from King's College London in the UK also found that most systemic side effects -- meaning side effects excluding where the injection took place -- peaked within the first 24 hours following vaccination and usually lasted 1-2 days.

The analysis of data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app found much fewer side effects in the general population with both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines than reported in trials.

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The study also reports a significant decrease of infection rates from 12 to 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer (58 percent reduction) and AstraZeneca (39 percent reduction) vaccines compared to a control group.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The drop in infection at least 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer is 69 percent and for AstraZeneca 60 percent, according to the study.

Systemic effects included headache, fatigue, chills and shiver, diarrhoea, fever, arthralgia, myalgia, and nausea.

Local side effects -- meaning side effects where the injection took place in the arm -- included pain at the site of injection, swelling, tenderness, redness, itch, warmth and swollen armpit glands.

"The data should reassure many people that in the real world, after effects of the vaccine are usually mild and short-lived, especially in the over 50's who are most at risk of the infection," said Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor at King's College London.

The data comes from 627,383 users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app who self-reported systemic and local effects within eight days of receiving one or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine between December 8 and March 10.

The study also found that side effects were more common among people under 55 years of age and among women.

Participants who had a confirmed case of prior COVID-19 were three times more likely to have side effects that affect the whole body after receiving doses of the Pfizer vaccine than those without known infection.

Those with a confirmed case of prior COVID-19 number were almost twice more likely to have side effects that affect the whole body after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

People with prior known COVID-19 infection were also more likely to experience local side effects, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that in Phase III clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine, the most common side effects were pain at the injection site (71-83 percent), fatigue (34-47 percent) and headache (25-42 percent).

However, the real-world analysis found less than 30 percent of users complained of injection site pain and less than 10 percent of fatigue and headache after the first dose, they said.

Similarly, in Phase III trials for the AstraZeneca vaccine, systemic side effects were found in 88 percent of younger participants (18-55 years) after the first dose but the study found a significantly lower rate of 46.2 percent after the first dose.

"Our results support the after effects safety of both vaccines with fewer side effects in the general population than reported in the Pfizer and AstraZeneca experimental trials and should help allay safety concerns of people willing to get vaccinated," Spector added.

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PTI
first published: Apr 28, 2021 04:36 pm

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