When a disease breaks out, the World Health Organization (WHO) is alerted. Through their agents located in different countries of the world, they co ordinate the health standard in the entire world. Their scientists embark on serious studies on the origin, spread and possible cure of the disease.
During their investigation on the survivors, they may extract some substance e.g. A which they think can be used in another healthy person to produce a protection or immunity e.g. B on the person to fight the disease in case the person is exposed to that disease or similar one in future. The substances A will not be able to induce a fresh disease in the person.
This substance A is called “ANTIGEN” and the protection or immunity B is called “ANTIBODY”. The drug that affords this Antigen and antibody is called VACCINE and the administration is called “VACCINATION”.
From the above illustration, vaccine can be defined as :
A causative agent of a disease In a person which acts as antigen in another person to stimulate the production of antibodies that will produce immunity or protection against such disease without inducing fresh disease.
It can also be defined as a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.
Antigen, on its own Is any substance that can cause the immune system to produce antibodies against it. By implications, the immune system does not recognize it and tries to fight it. The antigen can be a substance derived from environment e.g, Chemicals, Viruses, bacteria, pollen or a synthetic product of the original one derived from the causative organism.
It was in 1796, that Dr. Edward Jenner, in Berkeley (Gloucestershire), England, took pus from a cowpox lesion on a Milkmaid’s Sarah Nelmes hand and introduced it into the body of James Phipps – an eight year old boy. Six weeks later, he introduced into Phipps arm with Smallpox on two different sites and found that he was not infected. On investigation, it was found that the cowpox earlier introduced into the boy, actually made the boy to produce immunity that protected him against a similar infection of Smallpox. This is the foundation of modern vaccination or vaccinology.
VACCINATION AND IMMUNIZATION
Vaccination can be regarded as a treatment which empowers the body to be stronger against an infection. It helps the body to fight infection through its immune system. The immune system is exposed to something that resembles a particular causative organisms e.g. Virus, bacteria, which empowers it to be stronger in the course of fighting against the real infection.
Vaccine provides the immune system the way to fight the actual diseases in case the body is exposed to it. At this stage, the person is said to be immunized. Immunization can now be described as the process of giving a person vaccine in order to protect him against disease.
The immunity or protection afforded to the person is similar to the one received by getting the disease except that the person did not wait to get the disease instead received a vaccine to acquire it.
Vaccine may not protect a person under the following conditions:
Infection involving different serotypes or variants. Example can be seen from Covid-19 variants.
If the infection has been established on the person since they cannot prevent the spread of active infections within the host subject.
SOME EXAMPLES OF DISEASES IN THE HISTORY OF MAN
Due to fear and doubts concerning this Covid-19, I want to present some diseases which had earlier affected mankind and was eventually brought under control through administration of drugs including vaccines.
1.Cholera 2. Ebola 3. Lassa fever 4.Meningitis 5. Mers – Cov (middle east respiratory syndrome – cov) 6.Plague (Bubonic plague or black death) 7. Smallpox 8.Yellow fever 9.Dengue Fever (Breakbone Fever) 10. Monkey Pox 11. SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 12. Infuenza (FLU) 13. Poliomylitis (polio) 14. Human Immuno deficiency virus (HIV) 15. Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) 16. E.T.C
Covid-19 is an acronym derived from coronavirus disease which was discovered in 2019. It is an infectious disease brought about by a newly discovered coronavirus which is a specie of severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 otherwise known as SARS-COV 2.
Covid-19 was first discovered in Wuhan – Central China on the first of December, 2019. Owing to the severe health concern, the World Health Organization, WHO, declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International spread. WHO declared it a pandemic in March, 2020.
Over 134 million cases have been confirmed globally by first week of April, 2021. From this figure, over One hundred and eight million have recovered and more than Two million, Nine hundred deaths recorded.
In Nigeria, within the same period, more than one hundred and sixty thousand cases have been confirmed. Out of this, more than one hundred and forty thousand recovered and about two thousand deaths recorded.
HOW DOES IT SPREAD
It is airborne especially when people are close to each other. It can escape from an infected person to a nearby person, when the carrier breaths, coughs, sneezes or speaks. The quickest entry points to a new person are the mouth, nose or eyes. It can also get to another person through contaminated surfaces. When one is infected, the virus can remain in the person for up to two weeks even though the person can be assymptomatic (without any symptom).
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
It must be borne in mind that Covid-19 is not a death sentence. It can affect different people in different ways. Some people may get it without any obvious symptoms, some who get it may manifest mild symptoms which fades away leading to recovery without developing into severe health situation.
Below are some symptoms which may be :
1.Mild 2. Moderate and 3. Severe
1. Mild Symtoms – a.Aches and pains b.Sore throat c.Diarrhea d. Conjunctivities e. Headache f.Loss of taste or smell g. A rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes.
2. Severe Symptoms – a.Dysponea or difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath b.Chest pain or pressure c. Loss of speech or movement
Note: This Stage should be referred to Hospital as emergency.
The period between the contact of the infection and manifestation of the infection is usually 5 and 14 days.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) PUBLIC ADVICE ON COVID-19.
In an open place, maintain at least 1 metre (about 3 feet)- social distance. But in an enclosed place ensure you maintain an even greater distance of not less than 3 metres.
Ensure that you form the habit of wearing face mask when in a crowd.
Ensure that you wash your hands in running water and clean with alcohol based hand rub e.g. Sanitizers.
Ensure that you do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth as your hand might have touched contaminated places.
Ensure that your mouth and nose are covered with your hand or elbow when you cough or sneeze.
Ensure that you isolate yourself by staying home when you have the mildest symptoms – self isolation.
TREATMENT OF COVID-19
There is no full approved treatment yet by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Currently, researches are going on to get a cure for it. However , the management of symptoms on the patients are popular pending the development of immunity by the body to contain the infection. The needs to ensure that the body develops adequate immunity to fight back the infection is what led to COVID-19 VACCINE.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the World Health Organization, WHO, have been working hard to ensure a quick control of the devastating effect of the pandemic.
They are collaborating with many Pharmaceutical giants and research centres to ensure that human lives are protected through vaccine production, distribution and administration.
In collaboration with European Commission and Government of France, they formed Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, popularly called COVAX. This body is a global initiative for equitable access and management of Covid-19 vaccines. They are jointly managed by
UNICEF- United Nations Children’s Fund
The GAVI-Global alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.
The World Health Organizaton
The coalition of Epidermic Preparedness innovations CEPI e.t.c.
DISCOVERY OF COVID-19 VACCINES.
The discovery of any drug including Covid-19 Vaccine, must pass through many approved standard procedure. This must include the initial laboratory investigation with lower animals like rats, guinea pigs e.t.c. it is from these investigations that
The safety of the drug will be decided
The likely effective dose of the drug
The minimal dose that elicit safety risks on the body when administered- i.e. Toxicity of the drug.
Every drug must pass these tests before it is considered for Clinical trials on human volunteers. While the clinical trials are going on the effects on different parts of human organs are noted and the drug can only be released to the public when an acceptable level of tolerance is achieved.
Again, when the drug is released into the market, a post marketing survey will be conducted to observe the effects on a larger population. Once there is any adverse reaction that is considered to be fatal to a reasonable number of the populace, the drug is withdrawn immediately from further circulation.
The above explanation is true for any vaccine development including Covid-19 vaccine.
To get vaccines to control effect of Covid-19, up to 200 vaccines candidates are being tried all over the world. Out of this about 52 are going through human clinical trials.
However, World Health Organization, WHO, have approved the following vaccines for immediate use in human:
Pfizer – Bion Tech
Johnson & Johnson/Jansen
Astra ZenecaCovid-19 vaccine
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine
NUMBER OF DOSES OF COVID-19 VACCINES TO TAKE.
The number of doses needed for immunity to protect you against Covid-19 disease, depends on the type of vaccine you take. Each of these companies uses a different technique in their formulation of the vaccines and this controls the provision of the much needed immunity against the virus.
In the case of Pfizer BioN Tech vaccine, during the clinical trial, the 1st dose initiates theimmune response and the 2nd dose after 1 week enhances the strength of the immunity to 95%.
Hence it is recommended that those on vaccine should take the 2nd dose 3 weeks after the first dose.
And for those on Moderna, from the clinical trial it was 2 weeks after the 1st dose, that 94.1% protection was achieved hence it is advisable for those on this type to take the 2nd dose 4 weeks after the 1st dose.
However, the Johnson & Johnson / Jansen Covid-19 vaccine is only one dose.
DURATION OF PROTECTION FROM COVID-19 VACCINES.
The exact length of time for protection against Covid-19 from these vaccines is not yet ascertained. This is because the vaccines are new and more studies are still going on to predict the length of time of immunity they can confer on those who use them.
Again , due to the existence of variants of the Covid-19 Virus , which are resistant to the current Covid-19 vaccines it is advisible to sustain the use of non-pharmaceutical measures earlier used e.g.
Wearing of mask to cover mouth and nose
Physical (Social) Distancing- maintain at least 3 -6 feet away.
Hand – washing – after cough, sneezing, outing, using bathroom, door knobs or handles, or in contact with objects exposed to public use.
Avoid shaking of hands, hugging
Avoid crowded places and ensure good ventilation wherever you are
Ensure that you eat balanced diets and to be out of unnecessary stress to maintain good level of immunity.
From my analysis of history of disease pandemic and control, you can see that Covid-19 is just like any other disease that appeared to disrupt the joy and safety of mankind. Great effort is being made to put it under control. It is advisable to play your part well by accepting the vaccine once it is your turn. It is true that everybody may not take it now e.g Underage children and Pregnant women because the makers have not done enough research to advise on their safety.
Again, since the vaccines are under investigation do report an unwanted reaction you notice to National Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) or Presidential Task force on Covid-19 or any nearest health centre. Finally maintain all the Non- Pharmaceutical guidelines available to you.
Geneith Pharm. Ltd