Health Benefit of a COVID-19 Vaccine

Can you imagine a COVID-19 vaccination that would help slow down or even stop the spread of COVID-19?

More than 4 crore Indians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late 2019. In addition to the social distancing measures being put into place across the country in this COVID-19 pandemic, scientists around the globe are working tirelessly to develop COVID-19 vaccine and treatments to combat the rapidly spreading virus.

Though COVID-19 vaccination against coronaviruses are well known, they are limited in scope. The new strain of the novel coronavirus has now infected nearly 2 crore people worldwide, total killing over 5 lakh due to COVID-19 infection, symptom with shortness of breath, blurred vision with other risk factors of COVID-19 infection and other medical condition. This is why a coronavirus vaccine is needed.

The COVID-19 can be controlled if we act smartly by taking COVID-19 vaccine with vaccine effectiveness. It’s going to take a lot of time to control the disease but it’s not too late. A large number of people have already been infected. We need to find an effective treatment for those who are getting sick. There will be no way to reduce our impact on the global economy without developing a vaccine.

So, what exactly does this new types of vaccine entail?

A COVID-19 vaccine against coronavirus will work on similar lines as our existing seasonal flu vaccines do - by giving us immunity but not allowing them to get sick!

The goal is to prevent the infection from getting further outwards by blocking one specific stage of the virus life cycle which involves its attachment to host cell receptors.

To protect ourselves from coronavirus, we need a COVID-19 vaccine because the current treatment options are only effective when used after symptoms arise. A vaccine can be administered before anyone gets any symptoms, and if it works effectively, it could save thousands of lives.

How does the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine work?

Scientists at National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, India have been working on an anti - COVID-19 vaccine. They have developed a recombinant form of virus spike protein called CR3022, which is based on the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-NIV) Pune have successfully developed a SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccine using recombinantly expressed spike protein of the virus. Spike proteins bind with the human receptor ACE2 (Angiotensous Enzyme Converting enzyme, 2). These spike proteins also provide resistance to antibodies and hence they are vital targets of neutralizing immune responses against viruses like Zika virus, Ebola etc.

SARS-CoVs cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, while MERS causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Both these viruses carry genes from bat Coronaviridae family.

In comparison to the MERS vaccine, the SARS-CoV vaccine consists of the same spike protein along with 3 other proteins. As mentioned earlier, the spike protein binds with the ACE2 receptor which facilitates the entry of the virus inside the body. So, this component is targeted for immunization.

Three other components: 1) Nucleocapsid; 2) Membrane Fusion Domain; and 3) Peptides representing viral epitopes are included in the multi-component COVID-19 vaccination.

The nucleocapsid protein helps in packaging genetic material of RNA genome into a capsid structure. It is essential for transcription and replication of both ssRNA and dsDNA viruses.

This component comes from the helper virus that is necessary for production of infectious viruses in cells. Hence, it needs to be present in the final vaccine formulation.

Membrane fusion domain of Ebola (Zaire EBOV) was chosen as the second component since it represents a conserved region shared among all filoviruses.

Peptides representing linear B-cell epitopes were selected as third component. Epitope means peptide sequences that stimulate T-cells to generate antibodies against a particular pathogen. This component provides protection from all strains of the virus.

What’s the difference between the SARS-CoVs and MERS CoVs??

Both these viruses belong to the beta Coronavirus genus. However, they differ in their clinical characteristics.

MERS and SARS: MERS belongs to lineage C whereas, SARS belongs to lineage B. These two lineages of coronaviruses are responsible for pandemics such as the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 and the recent MERS outbreak in 2015-2016.

However, there is no evidence that MERS has spread globally although many people infected with potential risks with the disease were reported from Saudi Arabia. The source of infection is believed to be camels. Unlike SARS-CoV, MERS-Cov does not appear to infect humans via person-to-person spread with this infectious diseases. Instead, transmission occurs primarily through close contact with ill or deceased animals and exposure to contaminated environments. MERS often involves more severe symptoms than those seen with SARS. In addition to pneumonia, patients can develop kidney failure, liver damage and inflammation of the brain, resulting in death.

Some of these vaccines are made using RNA based replicons which are very fast acting and provide immunity in mice and non-human primates from the risk of infection. While all these efforts are underway, what should everyone including doctors and healthcare professionals do to protect themselves and their loved ones while waiting for an effective vaccine to save lives and prevent further infections? How should you stay safe yourself and your surroundings? Here are some ways that can help you:

1. Wash your hands often: This probably sounds obvious but did you know that 95% of the viruses that cause flu are spread by droplets released when people cough or sneeze? When someone coughs or sneezes near you, the germs land on surfaces like door handles and light switches. These bacteria quickly multiply. If an individual touches his/her nose or mouth with contaminated fingers, the bacteria may enter through tiny cuts and wounds in the skin. Then, this person could infect others by touching objects or surfaces that he/she later uses. Hand washing can kill many types of microorganisms, such as strep throat, staphylococcus, salmonella, listeria, shigella, and E. coli. So keep your hands clean! Keep them away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Make sure your water is well filtered so you don't get ill from drinking it. Also, make sure hand sanitizer is readily available at work, school, home, and anywhere else you spend a lot of time.

2. Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly: Viruses don't like cold temperatures. They don't survive below freezing point. Use disinfectant wipes or sprays to wipe down the following common items each day:

• Kitchen counters

• Light switches

• Toilets

• Door handles

• Phone keypads

• Microwaves

3. Stay home if sick: If you feel sick, please stay home until you feel better. Do not go to work. Instead, take care of yourself at home. A fever means your body’s natural response to infection has gone into overdrive, causing your immune system to react too strongly. Your body needs rest to recover properly. This includes enough sleep, plenty of fluids, and no alcohol. Coughing produces mucus, which traps viral particles, making it easy for them to move around the air we breathe. The good news is coughing brings things deep inside our lungs, and helps move the trapped germs out faster. Once the cough stops—after 24–48 hours of proper treatment—you will have less risk of spreading a contagious illness. (See also: What Should I Do If Someone Gets Sick Around Me?)

4. Cover your face when you cough or sneeze: To avoid spreading germs, cover your mouth and nose with one elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw away tissues immediately after use and wash your hands. Avoid touching your eyes or face. Disposable contact lenses or dental dams can be used to keep germs out of your eyes during procedures such as putting in eye drops. And if you feel sick with a new respiratory virus, try wearing a mask in public places. It's true that masks don't offer protection against airborne illnesses, such as the flu virus, but they do reduce the chances of passing other respiratory diseases like influenza and pneumonia.

5. Get tested: Everyone should get vaccinated. We all want to protect ourselves and our loved ones against flu-like illnesses. If you've been exposed to COVID-19, however, there's a chance that you might develop symptoms that look like those from the seasonal flu, especially if you're older than 60 years old. Because testing is slow right now, the best thing to do is to get vaccinated first before any symptoms appear. You can still get the vaccine even though you've had contact with coronavirus because some vaccines protect against both the seasonal flu and COVID-19. In fact, experts recommend getting the flu shot every year. There’s also a nasal spray called FluMist Quadrivalent (approved for adults 18 and up) that targets four strains; two in the regular season and two more in the fall. For the elderly, who often catch influenza twice per year, taking the vaccine yearly offers the most benefit.

6. Drink lots of water: Drinking plenty of water keeps your skin moist and healthy. When you're sick, your body loses its ability to regulate temperature. That makes you sweat more, which leads to dehydration. Dehydration causes headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. So drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Apollo Clinic Sarat Bose Road

Bus Stop, Matru Chhaya, Sarat Bose Rd, opposite Lansdown, Lansdown, Paddapukur, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700020


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