Vaccines stimulate and protect your immune system

Vaccines have been used successfully to protect humans from diseases for decades, but what is a vaccine?  

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony, in Monday’s COVID-19 update, explained that they stimulate the body’s immune system to defend it against future viruses and bacteria. 

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

“What a vaccine does is to trick the body into believing that it’s under attack. Therefore, the body then ramps up its defence and produces antibodies to fight off these diseases so when the real disease comes, they already have antibodies ready and prepared to fight off whatever infection occurs.”

With the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, the Minister explained that vaccines need to go through three stages of development and testing before they are approved. The first trial assesses whether the vaccine is working while the second deals with immune reactions to it. The third trial is conducted on a much larger scale to get a more precise understanding of its safety profile. 

“For the Pfizer vaccine, and the Moderna one, it has gone through these three levels of trial, and they have been able to get the information from the different patients, and they have been able to see how this vaccine works.” 

Dr. Anthony highlighted that these vaccines had been clinically tested on wide groups of people from varying backgrounds and age groups. From there, an understanding of their effectiveness can be surmised. All three stages of testing must be completed before an authorisation is given for the vaccines to be administered to the public and is safe to be deployed.

The effectiveness of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine is quite high, both ranging between 94.6 per cent and 95 per cent.  

“The two have gotten emergency use authorisation. These vaccines are going to have a very good protective effect to protect people against COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Anthony said. 

Once fully deployed, the vaccines will be monitored for about six months. During this period, additional information will be gathered to add to “a larger pool of safety data” which will be used to explain more about the vaccines and their characteristics. 

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.