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Questions and Answers: COVID-19

Everything you wanted to know about the New COVID-19 Vaccine

1. What is actually in the new Covid-19 Vaccine?

Messenger RNA. This is the substance your body combines with DNA to make cells. However this mRNA is synthetic so there is no live virus in the vaccine. It matches the part of the COVID-19 virus that attaches to cells in your body. Its presence produces antibodies against the virus and that gives you immunity. In spite of all the conspiracy theories there are no foreign materials; no lead or mercury; and no Microsoft chips from Bill Gates (besides being too big they would contaminate the vaccine). Only pure vaccine and in the booster one for adults some squalene which comes from shark liver oil to make it more potent.

2 How soon will you be immunized?

You must have 2 doses 3 weeks apart but during this time you do not have high enough levels of antibodies. It may be at least 3 weeks after the 2nd dose when you are completely immunized against the virus. So still take all precautions until then.

3. How long will the antibodies last?

Because we have rushed to get this vaccine to market we have not been able to do long term studies which normally take two years. All the studies show that after 119 days you still have a very strong antibody response. Hopefully it lasts the winter season.

4.  Is it really safe?

In my opinion it is very safe and I would roll up my sleeve at the first opportunity to become vaccinated. All the studies have shown one of the highest degrees of safety of any vaccine. The fear is because of Trump’s bravado about how he rushed through the vaccine. The truth is the manufacturers took extra time and testing to make sure it was perfectly safe. Their entire reputations are on the line.

5.  How long before we can safely mingle with others, hug our loved ones and remove our masks?

This vaccine is 90% effective. That means we need to immunize approximately 60 per cent of our people before we feel safe. To develop herd immunity we really should start with children and young adults. However, social demands mean that front line health workers, nursing home workers and residents and people over 65 go first.  We will probably not reach safe levels until this summer and my guess is that next fall we will take another shot to prevent infection for next winter.

6. What side effects can I expect?

So far there have been no major side effects. A reaction to the vaccine may mean muscle pain, soreness at the injection sight, slight fever and redness of the skin where you were injected. In fact, when you get these symptoms you know the vaccine is working. Only the Astra Zeneca vaccine has caused an over stimulation of T1 cells in a few young patients causing muscle paralysis and that is not the norm. Most people will not even feel they had an injection. I think the Pfizer and Moderna are the safest but if I had a choice I would stay away from the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

7. How do they test it?

The vaccine is usually given to about 30,000 to 48,000 people in an area where COVID-19 is infecting many. The tests have shown so far that the vaccine works 90% better than the placebo. They then follow all these people for another 2 months to monitor their health for any side- effects. So far, no cases of any health issues related to the vaccine. Then after 119 days they test for antibodies and if they are strongly active. They may be very strong for more than 119 days but that is the limit so far in order to finish the testing and get the vaccine to the people. 37 per cent of the subjects were black and brown-skinned people who have been most affected by this epidemic and the results showed 90 per cent protection also in this group.

8. Will it be mandatory that I take the vaccine?

Absolutely not. The government cannot mandate that you receive the vaccination. Some employers may force their employees, such as restaurant owners or airlines but there cannot be a national mandate in Canada.

It is very important to wear in mask in all indoor settings and physical distance yourself from others; wash your hands with soap and water and hand sanitizers when out; sip liquids all day so that if the virus gets into your throat you will wash it down into your stomach where stomach acid will destroy it. We must do this not just until the majority of us are immunized but for at least another few months after that. The COVID-19 vaccine does not work immediately so we must keep our guard up.

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