VACCINATION

Posted on June 14, 2021 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

Vaccines contain weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism (antigen) that triggers an immune response within the body. Newer vaccines contain the blueprint for producing antigens rather than the antigen itself. Regardless of whether the vaccine is made up of the antigen itself or the blueprint so that the body will produce the antigen, this weakened version will not cause the disease in the person receiving the vaccine, but it will prompt their immune system to respond much as it would have on its first reaction to the actual pathogen.

Some vaccines require multiple doses, given weeks or months apart. This is sometimes needed to allow for the production of long-lived antibodies and the development of memory cells. In this way, the body is trained to fight the specific disease-causing organism, building up memory of the pathogen so as to rapidly fight it if and when exposed in the future.

A year and a half after the Covid-19 pandemic began, several vaccines have now been rolled out across the world, including some that use the new mRNA technology that has never been approved for use on humans before. Although all these vaccines have been produced at record speed, with processes run in parallel to save time, there have been many checks and balances to ensure their safety, including being subject to the same scientific and regulatory rigour as any other vaccine.

A candidate vaccine goes through several stages before it can be given to people – right from the exploratory science, to the pre-clinical testing (often on animals), then clinical development (which includes three phases of human trials), and finally regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. In pre-clinical studies, a vaccine is tested to see whether it is toxic and how it reacts with the body – this is to identify a safe dose before testing the vaccine candidate in people. Human trials are designed to spot side effects – these are not the same as temporary short-term reactions such as a headache, sore arms, fatigue, chills and fever, which are common in other vaccines or injections, and are usually not harmful in the long term. Genuine side effects mean anything that is long-lasting and potentially dangerous.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases.  Vaccines strengthen our immune system by training it to recognise and fight against specific viruses.  When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and helping to protect the whole community. Covid-19 can spread quickly and widely. It has resulted in the deaths of over 3.8 million people worldwide and over 3,900 deaths in Malaysia. When enough people in the community are vaccinated, it slows down the spread of the disease. Achieving herd immunity is the eventual goal. It usually requires a large amount of the population to be vaccinated.

Every Covid-19 vaccine greatly reduces the risk of the illness and drives the risk of hospitalization and death to nearly zero. There is also growing evidence the vaccines drive down the rate of transmission, making it much less likely that someone who is vaccinated could actually spread the disease.

If you are not vaccinated, Covid-19 can cause a range of symptoms of wildly varying severity in people. Some might be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, while others are sick enough to need hospitalisation, supplementary oxygen and the use of a ventilator. Broadly, as a respiratory virus, Covid-19 causes breathlessness, fatigue and muscle ache. As the pandemic has evolved and documented clinical case histories have accumulated, another symptom began to emerge – the partial or total loss of the sense of taste and smell. This in itself is not unusual for a respiratory viral infection, but what was unique is that people had this symptom without any of the other usual symptoms of infection. It is now clear that the coronavirus does not just attack the respiratory system, and some people have reported gut issues and problems with their kidneys. Severe Covid-19 patients have experienced what is called a ‘cytokine storm’ in which the body’s immune system goes into a potentially fatal overdrive and leads to multi-organ failure.

Yet a large percentage of Malaysians, including those at high risk of contracting the virus, are reluctant, skeptical or opposed to taking the Covid-19 vaccine based on the number of people who have registered for the vaccination. Among the reasons are their concerns about the vaccine safety because of the quick development pace and government overreach. Among those opposed include a small but very vocal number of people who are opposed to all vaccines, which they say are unsafe despite sound research proving otherwise.

There is evidence suggesting that fully vaccinated people can safely take part in smaller private gatherings without face masks. When the evidence for the vaccines’ protective value grows, and as more people get vaccinated, the guidance on many of the current procedures will likely get more lax – letting people who are fully vaccinated feel more comfortable living life closer to normal.

We do not know if and when we will get to the point that the virus is completely eliminated, particularly given the complications like the emerging ferocious variants. Still, the closer we get to herd immunity by closing the gaps in vaccine coverage and overcoming vaccine hesitancy, the safer, healthier, and more open and vibrant our beloved country will be.

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp.Natural memory enhancer