QCOSTARICA – The goal of immunizing 500,000 people over 18 years of age with first doses for 10 days has been stumbled by the fear of some to the AstraZeneca brand product, which is the one that is applied at this time, based on unfounded fears and without any scientific basis that specialized doctors rush to deny.
This is the case of the immunologist Olga Arguedas, who insisted that the vaccine has shown excellent performance, with more than 90% protection against moderate and severe disease, hospitalization and death, which is what is important in the face of covid-19.
“It also has excellent performance against the delta variant,” she explained.
As Arguedas, who is also a pediatrician and director of the Hospital Nacional de Niños (National Children’s Hospital), says, no vaccine, under any circumstances, can be more fearsome than the disease itself, which has already caused thousands of deaths (6,189 as of Friday to be exact) in Costa Rica.
240 deaths related to covid-19 have been recorded in the week between Friday, September 17, the first day of the vacunatón and Friday, September 24.
This same reflection is the one promoted by the Directorate of the North Huetar Region of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), through cartoons shared on social networks, in which they express that, by requesting a specific brand, residents lose the opportunity to protect themselves from the life-threatening disease.
This vaccine is applied only for those over 18 years of age, because internationally it is not authorized for minors.
Side effects are mild
Esteban Coto, AstraZeneca’s medical director for Central America and the Caribbean, also defended the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, while admitting that, like any drug, it can have side effects.
In this case, Coto said the effects may be greater and more frequent in the first dose than in the second. However, most are mild effects.
The majority of the side effects reported are a pain at the injection site, followed by a headache and fatigue, muscle aches, general malaise in the first 24 hours. Some reported they felt feverish and chills and had nausea or an upset stomach.
In very rare cases the appearance of thrombi or clots has been observed, which internationally, have occurred in four out of every million vaccinated. On the other hand, among patients with covid-19, 2% have suffered thrombi, that is, it is much more possible that the problem is presented by the disease. In addition, among those who take birth control pills, they are seen in one in every 2,000 people.
How does this vaccine work?
According to information provided by AstraZeneca, this vaccine works with a method called a non-replicating viral vector.
A viral vector is a common virus that is used as a “vehicle” to assemble the vaccine. This virus is genetically modified to produce virus proteins, in this case, SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19.
In this vaccine, the viral vector is an adenovirus (a virus that is commonly related to colds or colds) that infects chimpanzees and not humans. This vector was modified to produce the SARS-CoV-2 protein S or Spike. This protein, also known as “spike” or “beak”, is what gives it the shape of a crown and is used as a gateway to human cells.
After vaccination, this protein is generated. In this way, the immune system is “trained” to attack SARS-CoV-2 if it ever comes into contact with it, thus preventing infection.
Non-replicating. The most common thing for a virus once it enters the human body is to replicate or create copies of itself. This was modified to avoid this: being “non-replicating” viral vectors are not capable of multiplying or creating copies of themselves.
This genetically modified virus platform is not present in many vaccines that are already in use, but, for example, it was tested in one against Ebola.
Among its advantages is that, by working with a viral vector and not with messenger RNA (such as that of Pfizer and BioNTech), it does not require being kept at high freezing levels and low temperatures. In this case, it is only necessary to be between 2 ° C and 8 ° C, the same temperatures at which the vaccines currently used in Costa Rica are stored.