What Is the COVID-19 Pandemic?
COVID-19 is a viral infection caused by a family of viruses called the Coronaviruses, resulting in specific flu-like symptoms such as common cold and fever. These viruses have also been the causative agents, earlier for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which had plagued certain parts of the world not many years ago.
COVID -19, the new coronavirus strain, was identified in China and spread from being an epidemic to a pandemic of enormous proportions. The viral strain is now known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and due to its origin in 2019, was named COVID-19. The full form of COVID-19 is Coronavirus disease 2019.
Symptoms of Covid-19
The symptoms and signs of COVID-19 would generally appear within the first two weeks of contact and infection with the virus. The common symptoms of the viral infection are:
- Loss of smell and taste
You may also experience other symptoms such as:
- A runny nose
- Muscle ache
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
How to Prevent the COVID-19 Infection?
You can prevent getting infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus by following these instructions:
- Avoid crowds and places that are not well ventilated.
- Maintain six feet distance from anyone, especially if the person is sick or is displaying specific symptoms.
- Wear a proper face mask both indoors and in public places.
- Cover the mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing.
- Avoid touching any part of your face.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap for a minimum of twenty seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitiser.
- Disinfect all surfaces prone to exposure before touching with hands.
- Stay and get treatment at home if you are sick and avoid travelling to places.
- Get vaccinated if you are above eighteen years of age.
What Are the Different Types of Vaccines Available and How Do They Work?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pfizer and Moderna, among a few other vaccines for immediate administration in the United States of America. Similarly, in India too vaccines such as Covishield and Covaxin have been approved for administration.
Each vaccine is different in terms of offering protection and immunity to the body. The body is triggered to generate a “memory” B and T-lymphocytes expected to offer lasting immunity.
Hence, the body takes a few weeks to produce the B and T-lymphocytes. In some cases, the vaccinated individual may also experience fever and body pain in developing immunity. Rest assured, these signs are entirely normal.
Immunity can be triggered to generate these specific cell types by vaccinating. In this regard, several vaccine types have been developed. Presently, there are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines recommended. These are:
1. mRNA Vaccines
mRNA is the coding genetic material of the body that is directly transcribed into proteins. Therefore, the mRNA vaccines contain the virus’s genetic material that carries instructions to transcribe a harmless unique protein.
When recognised by the body’s defence mechanism, this protein is destroyed, followed by the generation of the protein. The cells develop a memory to identify it in the event of an infection.
2. Vector vaccines
Vector vaccines are a modified version of another virus that closely resembles SARS-Cov-2. The genetic material inside the shell of the modified virus contains a segment of SARS-CoV-2 and is hence called a viral vector. When injected, the genetic material is transcribed into a protein. The body’s immune system eliminates the foreign protein and generates the memory of B and T-lymphocytes for any infection in the future.
3. Protein sub-unit vaccines
As the name suggests, the protein subunit vaccines are harmless segments of the viral protein instead of the whole viral protein injected into the body. The immune system recognises the foreign protein and builds the memory repertoire for any future infections.
The COVID-19 vaccine builds immunity post-vaccination. Despite the apparent benefits, you may experience some side effects post-vaccination, which are entirely normal. These side effects last only a couple of days and may mildly affect your daily activities. These side effects are:
- On the arm of the vaccine shot:
- Rest of the body
- Muscle pain
Myth Busters About mRNA and Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines
The arrival of new forms of vaccines has been accompanied by many common myths that have prevented many people from getting vaccinated. Some of the myth busters are outlined here. These are:
- Live COVID-19 viruses are not used in any form of vaccination.
- Live viruses are not used in mRNA and viral vector vaccines.
- The mRNA of the mRNA vaccines does not enter the nucleus of our cells which host our genetic material.
- Genetic material delivered by the viral vector vaccine does not get integrated into our DNA.
- Subunit vaccines use only a harmless part of the virus for building immunity.
What Are One-Shot and Two-Shot Vaccines?
Some vaccines that have been manufactured require more than one shot to develop proper immunity in the body. These are:
- One-shot COVID-19 vaccine. One of the vaccines that require only one shot is the Johnson and Johnson’s Jannsen vaccine, wherein you obtain complete immunity two weeks after the shot.
- Two shot COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Covishield and Covaxin are some of the vaccines that require two shots to be completely vaccinated. Therefore, you are considered immune two weeks after the second shot of the vaccine.
What Is the Bottom Line?
The bottom line is that out of all the precautions, vaccinations are considered a step closer to protection than the other preventative measures. It is vital for people who are ill or have comorbidities that can significantly reduce mortality.
Therefore, post-vaccination, you may be able to perform a lot more activities than you could before vaccination. This, however, does not rule out the fact that you must not let your guard down. You must continue to observe all measures, not just for yourselves but also for the people around you.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.