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What to do during vaccination? Follow all protection measures, because the corona-virus continues to mutate.
Corona-virus is different from influenza: the development of new strains requires a large number of infected people who serve as "incubators" for new mutations. The more infected, the more mutations, and therefore the greater the chance that a virus will stab the "winning combination" and bypass the acquired immunity - both the one developed in people who have had the disease and the one developed through vaccination.
Measures to limit the spread of the virus and vaccinations are aimed not only at reducing the burden on the medical system, but also at preventing such further changes in the virus.
Vaccination does not mean that everything is over now.
Immunity is built and vaccines help. However, while some have been vaccinated, there are many others who have not.
We face two problems:
Unvaccinated people can become infected, the virus can mutate in them, and a new mutant can endanger those who have been vaccinated.
Some vaccinated people can become infected, and with only a mild form of the disease, they transmit the virus to the unvaccinated and help create further mutations.
That is why it is important that as many people as possible are vaccinated and that mere protection (masks, distance) is respected in the meantime.
New mutants are beginning to show effects
New research has shown that the AstraZeneca vaccine is insufficiently effective against B.1.351 strains, giving barely 25% protection. South Africa has therefore canceled the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, and other countries are expected to reverse the strategy as the mutant spreads around the world. In other words, one of the world's players in the field of immunization is drastically weakened, until it manages to reformulate the vaccine and check this new formulation.
Loss of efficacy has not been seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine alone. The new vaccines, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are very effective against the primary strain (85–90%), but are much less effective against the new mutants (49–57%). There are currently no data on the effects of new mutations on Sputnik V and Sinofarm vaccines. Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been shown to be effective against new strains of corona-virus. The question is how long their resistance against new, combined mutants will last if the spread of corona-virus is not slowed down.
What does this mean for each of us, especially for those who would like to "wait a bit" with vaccination?
In an ideal world, a vaccine would completely protect us from getting sick at all, especially in light of the fact that the virus can have consequences in milder forms of the disease. We are also looking for the most ideal (effective) vaccine, because it is important from the point of view of achieving collective immunity: the higher the efficiency, the faster we will be able to get out of quarantine. But in this pandemic situation, these are not the only essential items for the vaccine, and now the search for perfection is the enemy of success. It is necessary for a large percentage of humanity to acquire at least basic resistance, so that we can talk about stopping mutations.
Waiting for the perfect vaccine slows down the vaccination process and the acquisition of collective immunity, and leaves extra room for the corona-virus to mutate.
For now, all vaccines continue to prevent severe forms of the disease, which is especially important for the elderly and for people in risk groups. As more severe forms of the disease have a higher chance of leaving more severe long-term consequences, partial protection pays off at that level as well.
It is very important to understand that any reduction in the ability of the virus to spread helps, both to finally stop the pandemic and to remove the burden from the hospital system.
Why is it important to get vaccinated as soon as possible?
As mutations in new strains become an increasing threat, so does vaccination become even more important. It is necessary to limit the number of strains that can spread in parallel (and thus become the basis for further mutations). It is also necessary to produce basic resistance, even if it happens that it will require additional vaccines.
Restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the virus are becoming increasingly important. Wear masks. Because the fewer masks, the more infected, and the more chances for mutations.
What can we expect in the coming months while the vaccination lasts? We now see the first practical effects of mutations, but many unknowns remain. In the coming months, we will see the real results of the collision of new strains with the existing immunity in those who have suffered from corona-virus, as well as in those who have been vaccinated.
There are two directions, ie two possible "futures":
It can happen that the remaining immunity is still strong enough to limit the spread and effects of the virus. In that case, it will be possible to "open the world" during the summer or autumn of this year.
However, it can happen that the evolution of the virus continues, and we start to see an increasing number of re-infections. In that case, we are followed by additional vaccines that "cover" mutants, similar to annual flu vaccines. And we can expect normalization in 2022.
Which of these two directions will become a reality depends primarily on the effectiveness of vaccination and the implementation of protection measures. Wear masks. Keep your distance. And get vaccinated. Only in this way will we stop pandemics and corona-virus mutations.
As you may have already read, I received my first dose of the vaccine exactly 3 weeks ago and I am going to receive my second dose tomorrow.