How do we all know Covid vaccines are protected?

By Michelle Roberts
Well being editor, BBC Information on-line

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A number of European international locations have paused use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after reviews {that a} small quantity of people that had been just lately given the shot additionally developed blood clots.

Regulators say there isn’t a proof that the vaccine is linked to or answerable for these occasions.

What’s occurred?

About 17 million folks have been vaccinated within the EU and the UK – 37 individuals who had the Oxford vaccine have been reported as having had a blood clot.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain are amongst those that have paused the vaccine’s use as a precaution, till additional analysis has taken place.

Nonetheless, the variety of blood clots reported is not more than would have been anticipated to have occurred naturally.

The World Well being Group is investigating however says there isn’t a robust proof to hyperlink the Oxford vaccine to the clots or counsel it’s unsafe. The European Medicines Company can also be trying into the matter and is predicted to make a decision on Thursday.

How do we all know a vaccine is protected?

Security trials start within the lab, with checks and analysis on cells and animals, earlier than shifting on to human research.

The precept is to start out small and solely transfer to the following stage of testing if there aren’t any excellent security issues.

What function do trials have?

If the protection knowledge from the labs is nice, scientists can verify the vaccine or therapy is efficient.

Which means checks on giant numbers of volunteers – about 40,000 within the case of Pfizer-BioNTech, the primary to be authorized within the UK.

Half are given the vaccine and the opposite half a placebo jab. The researchers and contributors are usually not advised which group is which, till after the outcomes, to keep away from bias.

media captionBBC’s Laura Foster explains the order by which the Covid vaccine shall be given

The entire work and findings are checked and verified independently.

The Covid vaccine trials occurred at breakneck pace, however they did not skip any steps.

What’s the fast-track approval for vaccines towards new variants?

Scientists hope to tweak coronavirus vaccines to make sure they proceed to supply excessive safety as new variants of the illness emerge.

The UK’s drug regulator says new vaccines will be fast-tracked for approval if wanted.

No corners shall be lower, with security paramount.

However prolonged scientific trials with hundreds of volunteers is not going to be wanted.

As a substitute, knowledge from present research and ongoing real-world use may very well be used.

Will the vaccine give me unwanted effects?

Vaccines don’t offer you a illness. As a substitute, they train your physique’s immune system to recognise and struggle the an infection they’ve been designed to guard towards.

Some folks do expertise delicate signs after being vaccinated. This isn’t the illness itself, however the physique’s response to the vaccine.

Widespread reactions which will have an effect on multiple in 10 folks and sometimes get higher inside days embody chills, tiredness and aching muscle tissue.

Who approves vaccines or therapies?

Approval is just given within the UK if the regulator is joyful {that a} vaccine is protected and efficient.

Checks proceed after approval to ensure there aren’t any additional unwanted effects or long-term dangers.

Unbiased consultants on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation resolve how finest to make use of a vaccine and who ought to get it.

Chart shows vaccination programme on course to reach 15m people by mid Feb. Updated 4 Feb.

What’s within the Covid vaccines?

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine (and Moderna’s) makes use of bits of genetic code to trigger an immune response. These are referred to as mRNA vaccines.

They don’t alter human cells, however merely current the physique with directions to construct immunity to Covid.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine makes use of a innocent virus altered to look much more just like the pandemic virus.

Vaccines typically comprise different elements, like aluminium, that make the vaccine steady or simpler.

What about allergy symptoms?

Allergic reactions to vaccines are uncommon. For any authorized vaccine, the elements are listed.

There have been critical however treatable allergic reactions in a really small variety of folks given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

As a precaution, the MHRA says folks with a historical past of great allergic reactions to any of the elements on this vaccine shouldn’t presently have this jab.

Bear in mind that anti-vaccine tales are unfold on-line by means of social media. These posts are usually not based mostly on scientific recommendation (or mix info with misinformation).

How the vaccines compare?

What if I’ve already had Covid?

Folks will nonetheless be supplied the jab even when they’ve had Covid-19 up to now.

That is as a result of pure immunity will not be long-lived and immunisation might supply extra safety.

Steerage says there aren’t any security issues about giving jabs to folks with “lengthy” Covid both. However people who find themselves presently unwell with Covid-19 shouldn’t obtain the vaccine till they’ve recovered.

How animal-friendly are vaccines and do they comprise alcohol?

Some vaccines, such because the shingles vaccine and the youngsters’s nasal flu vaccine, can comprise pork gelatine.

The Covid vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca don’t comprise this, or every other animal merchandise.

The British Islamic Medical Affiliation says there’s negligible alcohol in it – not more than in bread, for instance.

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