All prevention measures should be leveraged for breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission
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The message from all scientists is very loud and clear that vaccines alone will not be able to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after getting vaccinated, we will have to continue to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, wash hands frequently and avoid congregated settings, to break the chain of transmission of the virus.
Some leading scientists such as Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr Helen Rees, founder and Executive Director of Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; Dr Robin Shattock, Professor of mucosal infection and immunity, Imperial College London; and Dr Sarah Schlesinger, Associate Professor of Clinical Investigation, Rockefeller University, New York, interacted with a select group of global health writers including me, ahead of HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) International Conference, to be held (virtually) over the last week of January and the first week of February.
The year 2020 has been a tumultuous one indeed. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (commonly known as one of the forms of coronavirus that is causing the COVID-19 epidemic) ripped the world apart in a very short time, spreading the deadly COVID-19 pandemic very rapidly. The first clinical cases were recognized in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and till to-date it has infected almost 100 million people globally and killed more than 2 million.
While 2020 will remain etched in history as a catastrophic year, it will also be remembered as a year of scientific and medical breakthroughs - identifying the virus, sequencing the virus, making vaccines to combat it, at breakneck speed, and also figuring out what works medically - both in terms of treatments and in terms of prevention.
vaccines in our arsenal
It is nothing short of a miracle that in less than one year the biomedical community has fast tracked the development of several vaccines. As of now there are at least 3 injectable vaccines - by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna - that have got regulatory approval for their use by many countries to combat the pandemic. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use a new, first-ever technology that packages messenger RNA (mRNA) inside tiny fat droplets to instruct human cells to make the spike protein jutting out from the coronavirus's surface. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine uses an accentuated (harmless and weakened) version of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees and packages the genetic instructions in the shell of this adenovirus. This virus has been genetically altered with a gene for a coronavirus protein to provoke the body's immune reaction.
Efficacy of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is around 95%. While efficacy of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is slightly lower at around 70%, it is cheaper and easier to store than the other two vaccines.
efficacy versus effectiveness of a vaccine
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