COVID – 19 Strains and Effectiveness of Vaccination

Dr. Johny Pappachan Avookkaran, Internal Medicine (Specialist), Aster Hospital, Al Qusais

None of the vaccinations available so far are a 100% effective. The vaccine may help in keeping you at bay from complications and getting seriously ill. However, it is important that one continue observing the safety measures even after getting vaccinated, because you could still catch and spread the COVID – 19 virus. Wearing a mask and sanitizing hands regularly is still mandatory even after being vaccinated.

Taking the vaccine can cause certain side effects. Common side effects include injection site pain, redness, swelling and allergic reactions at the site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and fever. There could be other side effects like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lymph node enlargement. Severe life-threatening allergy called Anaphylaxis could occur in people with a history of allergies, for whom the vaccine is not advised.

Other more serious adverse consequences like neurological disease are exceedingly rare. The above common side effects can be managed with adequate hydration, medication, rest etc. However, medicine like Paracetamol should not be taken to ward off pain and fever as it may reduce vaccine effectiveness.

With reference to the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, it is a messenger RNA that stays in the cytoplasm but induces formation of the viral spike protein against which the body mounts an immune response. Thus this vaccine is effective against the variant of the virus as well. The new variant SARS-CoV-2 virus does not cause more severe illness or alter the effectiveness of existing laboratory diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines or public health preventive measures.

The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine provides upto 95% effectiveness against the virus. The inactivated vaccine contains virus chemically modified so that they cannot replicate. They however, contain not only the spike protein but all the viral components against which the immune system can generate protection. Since they cannot replicate, they are safe even in the immunocompromised.