17.02.2021 change 17.02.2021

Get the vax jab or 30,000 out of a million will die, warn scientists

Source: PAP Source: PAP

Without vaccination, 30,000 out of a million people will die after contracting COVID-19, scientists from the COVID-19 team at the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences warn.

According to the experts, the current choice is between a vaccine and an infection. They write that when making a personal decision to get vaccinated or not, the following comparison might help: “If we take a group of a million people, fewer than three of them will develop a severe anaphylactic reaction after vaccination. It does not mean death, only the need for immediate medical intervention. Without vaccination, 30,000 out of a million people will die after contracting COVID-19. This is the approximate risk of death from this disease in Poland. It varies with age and weight, but even adolescents hospitalised for COVID-19 are 10 times more likely to die than those hospitalised for influenza. We also do not know the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the whole body. On the other hand, no permanent complications were found after vaccinations. Remember, each administered dose of vaccine brings us closer to pre-pandemic normalcy.”

The COVID-19 team also identifies the key components of an effective vaccination process: an effective, safe and accessible vaccine; professional medical personnel who carry out the qualification for vaccination, and the vaccination itself.

The last component, according to the researchers, is the vaccinated person, who should be prepared to receive the vaccine. Experts point out that the development of post-vaccination immunity is a process that takes several days, during which the vaccinated person is still at risk of infection. With currently available vaccines, the immune system does not fully protect the body until 7 to 14 days after the second dose. 

The scientists said: “That is why you should not develop a false sense of security and still scrupulously follow the rules: wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands often. We now know that vaccination protects us against SARS-CoV-2 infection and the dangerous consequences of the disease. But we do not know yet whether vaccination protects us from infecting others. Therefore, as long as we do not have such certainty or until the pandemic has subsided, the above rules should be scrupulously followed after vaccination to protect others. The real measure of vaccine effectiveness is the reduced risk of developing the disease.”

In clinical trials, the incidence of COVID-19 in vaccinated people is compared to those receiving placebo in the study, and the degree of risk reduction obtained after administration of the vaccine is calculated. The risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 infection in those receiving the vaccine and placebo is also compared.

Scientists also say that the result of vaccination depends on factors including the age and health of the vaccinated person and the type of vaccine used. “Vaccination does not completely eliminate the risk of disease, it only reduces it. Even the best available vaccines protect us against disease in about 99 percent,” they said.

They note that in the case of vaccines, 40 percent is the minimum acceptable risk reduction, saying: “We would perceive any prophylactic intervention that would reduce the risk of a heart attack or diabetes to a similar degree as valuable and worth considering.”

The scientists admit that we will have to wait for unambiguous data on the vaccine effectiveness in these groups. The same goes for pregnant women. The team said: “It should be emphasized, however, that the currently available vaccines against COVID-19 do not contain +live+ viruses that could multiply in the body with weakened immunity or, for example, pass through the placenta to the foetus of a pregnant woman or infect an infant via mother's milk.”

The experts also argue that the opinions questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines 'are not based on reality'. They said: “We would all feel more comfortable having data from many years of observation on the effectiveness and safety of individual SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. But in the face of a huge number of cases and the urgent need to vaccinate as many people as possible, we cannot afford that time.”

The purpose of vaccinations is to provoke our immune system to work against a specific threat. This is why after vaccination we may experience pain, swelling or redness at the injection site and sometimes enlarged lymph nodes on the vaccination side. Some people will develop fever, muscle pain, a feeling of fatigue and drowsiness, depressed mood, and even diarrhoea or vomiting.

The PAS scientists said: “We may experience flu-like symptoms and fear that we have been attacked by illness instead of being protected. But this is a symptom that our immune system has been forced to work intensively: inflammation develops, there is a cytokine release and stimulation of cells of the immune system that learn to recognize virus antigens.”

They note that these symptoms are to be expected and they are usually mild, disappearing within hours or days without intervention. The severity of post-vaccination symptoms is usually slightly greater in young people than in seniors, it is also more frequent and stronger after the second dose of the vaccine.

The full text of the position (in Polish) is available at: https://informacje.pan.pl/index.php/informacje/materialy-dla-prasy/3247-stanowisko-11-zespolu-ds-covid-19-przy-prezesie-pan-zrozumiec-szczepionke-perspektywa-indywidualna

The interdisciplinary advisory COVID-19 team was established on June 30, 2020. Its chairman is the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Professor Jerzy Duszyński, deputy chairman is Professor Krzysztof Pyrć. Team members also include: Dr. Anna Plater-Zyberk, Dr. Aneta Afelt, Professor Małgorzata Kossowska, Professor Radosław Owczuk, Dr. Anna Ochab-Marcinek, Dr. Wojciech Paczos, Dr. Magdalena Rosińska, Professor Andrzej Rychard, Dr. Tomasz Smiatacz. (PAP)

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