Vaccine insights | By Asim Mehmood Microbiologist


Vaccine insights

THE past one and a half years being tough on one side, let people very much keen about pandemics, viruses, biological hazards and vaccines on the other hand.

History of pandemics is as old as the age of mankind itself. Evidence of bacterial and viral deadly plagues found frequently in history.

Between Spanish flu and SARS Covid-19 there came many of the deadly viral diseases which took many lives and even the count is increasing.

HIV, HCV, Congo and Ebola etc are examples of such deadly viruses that challenged medical science but are not as transmisible as Covid-19.

Apart from the debate, if the virus is natural or man-made, the pandemic indicated some serious challenges mankind can encounter in future.

Thanks to scientists whose agile vaccine research in response to Covid-19 gave the world a hope to get rid of chaos.

Although vaccines are available in almost every corner of the world, hesitancy along with many hilarious myths makes the job difficult.

There are tens of anti vaccine organizations operating from different parts of the world far more before the Covid-19 spread.

These organizations oppose vaccination and roll out awareness against compulsory vaccination laws.

Pharma industry allegedly back such kind of myths and conspiracies but unfortunately there is a majority of vaccination opposing groups, with same repeated questions, i.e.

Why is vaccination important? Are vaccines tested? What is in a vaccine? Are vaccines safe? Answers to such questions aren’t easy as many educated fractions of societies are tangled in such fake propaganda.

Currently approved vaccines are of four types, inactivated, viral vector, protein subunit and mRNA. All these principles followed for vaccine production have been in practice since long.

Inactivated viral vectors and protein subunits have nothing to do with cells of the host but only provoke the immune system by acting as inactivated foreign pathogens.

The response provoked by the vaccine helps in building memory cells which helps in encountering actual viral attack.

Similarly mRNA based vaccines make the cells to synthesize pathogenic proteins but do not affect DNA of the host.

Furthermore the vaccines commercially available and being used since long are all based on these principles.

It is not all good about the vaccines as there are concerns needed to be addressed and awareness should be made in public regarding actual challenges to be faced after vaccination.

There may be a requirement for annual booster shots depending upon the antibody life synthesized by vaccine. Immune reactions which may lead mild to severe effects cannot be ruled out.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Rawalpindi.

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