QCOSTARICA – In the midst of so much suffering, the world jumped for joy last week when the Pfizer / BioNTech companies announced that their vaccine is 95% effective against covid-19, according to the results of its clinical trial.
Best of all, a similar result was reported this week by Moderna company when it reported that its vaccine was also 94.5% effective, so the light is beginning to be seen at the end of the tunnel.
In the midst of so much joy (the vaccine could be in Costa Rica before March 2021), very interesting questions arise, such as: Can anyone be vaccinated against covid-19? Are all people able to accept a vaccine?
Talking to La Tejam Dr. Tatiana Cruz González, of the Centro de Información de Medicamentos de la Universidad de Costa Rica (Cimed-UCR) – Drug Information Center of the University of Costa Rica – cleared up some doubts.
Are all people candidates for vaccination?
Not all people have the ability to accept a vaccine. Caution is necessary since vaccines are contraindicated when some of their components cause an anaphylactic reaction (serious allergic reaction) that puts someone’s life at risk.
In general (and specific cases must be evaluated) in people who have severe allergic reactions, for example, it is known that the vaccine could be contraindicated. So this vaccine should be given in a hospital where there is adequate care in case the person has anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction).
According to Dr. Tatiana, there are contraindications in cases of specific diseases such as encephalopathy (brain dysfunction syndrome). In addition, only live vaccines are contraindicated for pregnant women (they use a weakened form of the germ that causes disease).
The doctor added that, in the case of vaccines against covid-19, these are not live vaccines, but although they are very recent, clinical studies have been carried out with due care, and it is usual that within the study population they are not they take into account pregnant women, so they will probably require greater controls when being vaccinated.
For the doc, there are other aspects with which care must be taken, for example when a child has been vaccinated and he/she had a very high fever, with persistent crying and seizures after the dose. These cases, according to Cruz, are rare, but care must be taken when applying the covid vaccine.
Another additional precautionary scenario is if a patient receives immunoglobulin, plasma, or blood transfusion treatment. The same occurs for those patients with moderate or severe illnesses who have very high temperatures.
In what cases can a vaccine be administered?
In most cases, a vaccine can be administered, always considering the care and precautions recommended by the manufacturer.
When a person has a mild fever, they can get vaccinated. The same, the person who is under antibiotic therapy or while breastfeeding.
In the case of pregnancy or HIV, the patient must be studied. Someone with HIV can get the chickenpox vaccine, for example.
The doctor also referred to a myth that says that due to a family history, whose members have seizures, and the person cannot be vaccinated, which is incorrect. According to the specialist, it is a precaution, but not a contraindication.
How does it work?
In the case of the vaccine, to explain it in the simplest way possible, the antigen (which is that substance that will generate the response) enters and a cell of the immune system grabs it – the antigen-presenting cell – and so on, in other words, “it goes gossiping to other cells involved in the immune response. That gossip is good for your health because it will signal the other immune cells to be alert. Thus, if the virus or bacteria reaches another part of the body, it will be identified and attacked,” explained Dr. Cruz.
Best of all, the news released by the pharmaceutical companies allows the Ministry of Health to breathe a sigh of relief, given that on November 12 a contract was signed with Pfizer for half a million doses.
In addition, an agreement had been signed with the pharmaceutical AstraZeneca to have a million doses of the vaccine that they are developing.
“The greatest danger of the vaccine is not against health, in this case, it is rather that it does not protect”, Dr. Tatiana Cruz from Cimed-UCR
Science is gradually reaching the desired vaccine and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that there are 48 vaccine projects around the world.
Eleven of these are already in phase three, the most advanced, thanks to the participation of thousands of volunteers to test whether the vaccine works.
Among all these laboratories, Pfizer / BioNTech and two other manufacturers stand out, the Moderna and the Russian authorities with the Gamaleia research institute, which talks about vaccines with 90% efficacy.
In addition to these, there are the projects of several Chinese state laboratories and that of the University of Oxford together with AstraZeneca, which are very advanced.