COVID Vaccines & You​ - Hot Topic

COVID Vaccines & You

The recent Covid 19 pandemic, that affected millions of people worldwide, has seen the development of vaccines at a record speed.

Currently (March 2021) there are 7 different vaccines (developed in 4 different platforms) available in different countries. At the same time, 200 additional vaccine candidates are in development, many already in clinical phases.
Vulnerable populations are the highest priority for vaccination, and they include people at high risk of developing the infection and having severe symptoms.

These are usually groups of immunocompromised patients as they had a previous or current diagnosis of cancer and received (or are receiving) treatment for it, as well as patients receiving active treatment for a variety of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, neurological problems (e.g.: multiple sclerosis), and many others.

It will be difficult in this short update article to assess each vaccine individually, instead we provide updated information about the main types of COVID-19 vaccines which are currently available.

The nucleic acid vaccines (mRNA) contain the genetic code for the coronavirus ‘spike’ protein. The mRNA directs production of the spike protein, which is seen and targeted by the immune system.

Pfizer-BioNTech – Moderna
Viral vector-based vaccines have the genetic code for the spike protein in a viral vector.

These vectors are only the shell and delivery mechanism of an adenovirus, so they don’t cause an infection. They are similar to the mRNA vaccines, allowing the spike protein to be seen and targeted by the immune system.

AstraZeneca/Oxford (Covishield) – Gamaleya Research Institute (Sputnik V)
Johnson and Johnson/Janssen
Protein subunit vaccines have the coronavirus spike protein itself together with an immune booster ensuring the spike protein is targeted.

Whole virus vaccines of which there are 2 sub-groups:

1.Inactivated virus vaccines, using an inactivated form of the whole coronavirus. The immune system recognises and targets the whole virus.
Sinovac (CoronaVac)

2. Live attenuated vaccines which use a weakened, but somehow active virus. They might cause a mild infection in people with regular immune functions. They would not be available for people with immunocompromised systems. They are undergoing further investigation.

In summary:
As far as we know there is no scientific evidence up to date that immunosuppressed people are at any higher risk of complications from any of the vaccines in the above three groups (nucleic acid, viral vector, and protein subunits vaccines). None of them have shown that are likely to trigger or worsen any chronic symptoms or cause any disease recurrences.

However, there is not enough information regarding the Whole Virus vaccines group (especially those with live attenuated virus) and therefore it is important that you should know what vaccine are you being offered.

The Belong Team This content is provided for your general education and information only. It does not necessarily reflect Belong’s views and opinions. Belong does not endorse or support any specific product, service or treatment.