Over the past year, the coronavirus has ran rampant across the globe. The virus has an increasingly horrific death toll, and so the world’s best scientists have been working to find a cure or vaccine to fight it. If you’re looking for a summary of the main efforts, check out our article on it here.
Across the last few weeks, various organisations have been getting positive results. One of which, was the Pfizer vaccine. At the beginning of November, it was announced that the Pfizer was over 90% effective. Following the news, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did a live announcement to discuss the new data, telling us to not get too excited, but that the government had essentially pre-ordered enough of the Pfizer vaccine to cover 1/2 of the population.
What’s the update?
Now, nearly a month later, we’ve awoken on the first day out of lockdown to the news that the Pfizer vaccine has been authorised for dispersal across the UK. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended the approval, and the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has just released its advice on the order in which the vaccine should be handed out. IT is as follows:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 or older, frontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 or older
- All those 70 or older, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- All those 65 or older
- Anyone 16 – 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk
- All those 60 or older
- All those 55 or older
- All those 50 or older
The vaccine will be available across the country from next week. This gives the NHS time to prepare.
What does the vaccine do? How does it work?
So as we’ve said, the vaccine prevents 95% of people contracting COVID-19, including 94% of people in older, more at-risk groups. The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people across 6 different countries, and no safety risks have arisen.
The vaccine itself is an mRNA vaccine. This differs from the usual form of vaccines which use a weakened form of the targeted illness. Instead, the mRNA is injected into the body, wherein it enters cells and tells them to create antigens. These can then be recognised by the immune system, and so the body can fight the virus.
This new type of vaccine is exciting not only because it’s faster than other vaccines, but cheaper too. They can also be modified reasonably quickly if needed, so if a virus mutates, we can keep up easier.
Is it safe?
All vaccines have to undergo a rigorous testing routine and are overseen by experienced and educated individuals. In fact, there is a chance mRNA vaccines are safer as they do not rely on any element of the virus being injected into the patient.
There are online myths going around that the mRNA vaccine ‘rewrites DNA’, but that is not the case, as explained above.
Are we going to have enough?
Due to patients needing two doses, 21 days apart, the UK currently has only secured enough of the vaccine to vaccinate approximately a third of the population. However, this means that we can start vaccinating those on the frontline, and those at risk. It is also highly likely that other vaccines, like those from Oxford, will soon be authorised too. This means that the NHS can work their way through the population.