Participants of Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine trials, irrespective of whether they experienced side effects, have recommended getting the shot, as per a report by the Wall Street Journal.
As the Pfizer-BioNTech offering is poised to roll out this week and Moderna gears up to seek commercial use as well – with a US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) panel set to review it on December 17, some Americans have expressed reservations – with one concern being the side-effects.
Participants, however, even if they experienced mild to harsh symptoms, recommend taking the doses, the report noted.
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For example, the effects, ranged from “fever which peaked at 102.4 F, freezing, headache, intense chills, joint ache, serious neck pain and weight loss (three pounds) due to intense sweating” over the next 24 hours, for 68-year-old retired nurse Jocelyn Edwards who received two doses of Moderna’s candidate in August. She, however, woke up fine the following day, it said.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Edwards was among 3,000 volunteer participants in Moderna’s Phase III clinical trials and was unaware of whether she was administered the vaccine or a placebo – till she had a reaction. She told the WSJ that “36 hours of feeling really rough” is better than getting COVID.
Kansas City nurse practitioner Amy Warren (48) also experienced chills, fever, muscle and joint pain, said “it felt like death” but recommended getting the shot to “save your life and your family’s life.” A subsequent test showed she has developed COVID-19 antibodies.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
Moderna did not respond to queries, as per the report, but company data showed the vaccine has 94.1 percent efficacy and after the second dose volunteers (aged 18 to 64) who received the vaccine dose were twice as likely to experience side effects compared to those who received placebo.
Of these, 17 percent of vaccine takers got fever compared to 1 percent who got placebo, while 48 percent experienced chills against 6 percent (placebo recipients), and fatigue and headaches were other side-effects.
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Volunteers (aged 18 to 55) of Pfizer’s vaccine had similar side effects after the second dose, as per company data – as 15.8 percent got a fever (compared to 0.5 percent of the placebo group), 35 percent got chills (compared to 4 percent), they also complained of headaches, fatigue and pain in the area where the injection was administered more frequently.
For example, New York state senator Brad Hoylman (55), experienced “102 F fever, sever body aches and splitting headache, but by next morning the symptoms were gone.” He still felt fatigued for a few days but told WSJ “it’s definitely worth getting the shot. It beats dying from COVID.”
Colorado based resume writer Jackie Stone (35) experienced symptoms like “mild cold, and spent a day in bed.” Her antibody test has also come out positive. “One day of feeling crappy in bed is totally worth getting your life back," she said.
Side-effects in both vaccine trials ranged from mild to moderate – as per company terminologies, and older individuals were less likely to have reactions.
According to Paul Duprex, Director of the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh the side effects are “a really good sign” the vaccine is “being recognized by your immune system to make all important SARS-CoV-2 antibodies."
As per experts, while 60-70 percent would be ideal, at least 50 percent of the population must be inoculated to provide herd immunity against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).