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2020 was a year that was famous for all the wrong reasons. As the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the entire globe, scientists and researchers around the world scrambled to find medical solutions that would stop the monster in its tracks.
Christened the SARS-CoV2 virus, this type of coronavirus is a new entrant to a society that has already seen and lived through other less virulent variations. The SARS Co-V2 virus is a highly contagious pathogen that spreads very easily amongst people. This lesser-known, microscopic organism has the deadly potential to cause respiratory tract infection, dysfunction of blood oxygenation and can cause a plethora of ailments that can lead to death.
More than a year since the first known report from Wuhan, China, the virus has mutated, and several variants are unleashing the second, third and fourth waves of infection all across the globe. Health checkup centres are reporting new strains that are more infectious and virulent.
The only silver lining in this bleak picture is what the advancement of science has given us: the vaccine. Scientists worldwide have toiled day and night to break records and scientific protocols to deliver the vaccines for Covid-19.
In 2021, India opened a whole new, hopeful chapter with two vaccines with “Made In India’ labels. Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization or CDSCO. The vaccination drive has now covered millions of people ranging from above 45 years of age and will be made available to those above 18 years from May 1st, 2021.
Let’s take a closer look at the vaccines made in India:
Every dose of Covaxin comprises millions of dead Coronaviruses, rendering it safe to be injected into the body. Once a dose is administered, the immune cells prompt the body’s immune system to recognise the dead virus and generate antibodies to fight against the new invader. Preliminary data from the first three phases of trials show that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 81%. The vaccine is administered in two doses, with the second dose given only after 3 or 4 weeks.
Bharat Biotech has four facilities running to full capacity to produce 700 million doses by the end of 2021.
Manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine is manufactured from a weakened version of the common cold virus called the Adenovirus from chimpanzees. The vaccine prompts the immune system to generate antibodies to prime the body against any coronavirus attacks. Similar to Covaxin, Covishield is administered in two doses given 4 to 12 weeks apart.
The Indian government has approved the usage of a third vaccine amidst a deadly second wave of the pandemic. Sputnik V is a harmless, cold-type virus engineered to expose the body to a minute fragment of the virus’s genetic code. The body starts producing antibodies and prepares the immune system to take on the coronavirus if there is an infection.
Thanks to the advancements of science, genetic engineering, and genomic studies, we are fortunate enough to access these vaccines at a time when nothing else seems to give hope to end the pandemic.
Here’s why the Covid-19 vaccines are important and why you should take them:
All Covid-19 vaccines are carefully evaluated with clinical trials before they are approved, authorised and rolled out for general use. Experts believe that vaccines can curb the disease from becoming more serious even if one is infected with the virus.
To understand how Covid-19 vaccines build our immunity, we must understand their composition and how they work. All Covid-19 vaccines are known as mRNA or messenger RNA vaccines. The vaccines instruct the body cells to create a harmless spike protein, similar to the spike found on the surface of the coronavirus. The presence of the spike protein triggers the immune system to make antibodies to fight off the infection. This prepares the body to fight off any real infection from the coronavirus.
Side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines
Most vaccines will have mild side effects, resulting from the immune system’s response to them. Some of the common side effects reported so far are:
In very rare cases, it can trigger an allergic reaction that requires immediate medical help. Stopping this pandemic requires a herculean effort that is possible only with our cooperation in protecting ourselves and others. There is no reason to let your guard down even if you have received both doses. Always wear a mask, wash hands regularly and maintain social distancing.
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