The FDA has now approved three vaccines for use in the USA, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. President Biden has a target of administering 200 million doses of these vaccines by the end of April 2021, and the project is currently on track to hit that goal.
Currently the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on hold due to an “abundance of caution”, according to the CDC, due to a possible correlation with blood clots occurring in a tiny minority of vaccinated patients. However, the other two vaccines are still in full supply.
As of today, a little over 22% of the American populace has been fully vaccinated, with 36% having received at least one shot. To achieve herd immunity, the point at which there are no longer sufficient unprotected hosts for the virus to spread, around 70 to 85% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Consequently, America has some way to go to reach this optimum level of protection.
We’ve all heard about how frequently the virus mutates and forms new variants. Recently, variants from Brazil, India, California, South Africa, and the UK have hit headlines, with much written about how serious and contagious these new strains can be. It may seem reasonable to ask whether the current vaccines, developed some months ago, will still be effective against these new versions of COVID-19.
The good news, as reported on CNN, is that there is plenty of evidence that vaccines do still provide protection against all recorded strains of the virus.
Pfizer recently released a report on the efficacy of their vaccine against the much-publicized B.1.351 South African strain. During an international blind trial, in which participants were either given a placebo or the vaccine, only nine cases of infection were reported in the 800 South African participants, ALL of them in the placebo group. That’s an efficacy rate of 100%.
Over the whole six-month trial, which involved 46,000 volunteers globally, there were 927 confirmed cases, 850 of them in the unvaccinated group. That translates to an effectiveness of 91.3%, Pfizer’s report confirms.
A recent laboratory study did show a reduction of antibody production when faced with the South African strain. However, there is no evidence that the vaccine’s effectiveness is compromised. Significantly more antibodies are produced by the vaccine than are required to convey protection against these new strains.
Variant trials have taken place with the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well and, so far, they are still working. Furthermore, new versions of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are being tested which ought to prove effective against new variants. Since these two vaccines utilize genetic technologies, a section of the mRNA sequence can be swapped for a more up-to-date version in the new versions of the vaccines.
It is likely that complete eradication of the COVID-19 virus will not be possible, and thus it will continue to circulate at a low level, rather than the common cold does. The strategy being applied worldwide is to reduce the virus’s virulence to a background hum.
As a precautionary measure, the pharmaceutical companies are working on boosters optimized for effectiveness against new strains and it may be the case that a fall shot is recommended. For these boosters to work, however, it is important that people are vaccinated with the currently available treatments.
A brief by the Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania, projects that doubling daily vaccinations to three million would result in the creation of two million jobs and boost GDP by 1%, as well as preventing a total of around two million cases of Coronavirus.
Commonsense makes it clear that the quicker the country returns to some semblance of normality, the sooner the national economy will recover. Every American has a part to play in this recovery, and one clear contribution each citizen can make is getting vaccinated.
Vaccination pushes the country closer to the goal of herd immunity, while conferring valuable protection on vaccinated individuals. It decreases pressure on hospitals and protects the minority of citizens who are unable to be vaccinated, such as those with vaccine allergies or certain autoimmune conditions.
There is no straightforward answer to how long current vaccines will continue to prove effective, although experts currently estimate that six to eight months is a reliable rule of thumb. The problem in providing a reliable estimate is that there are so many variables:
However, these factors don’t counter the value of being vaccinated now. Given the comparatively tiny risk of side effects and the confirmed efficacy of the three available vaccines in the US, it is in nobody’s interest to delay vaccination.
Governments worldwide are pushing their vaccination programs; America is no exception. You can help contribute to the national effort to decimate this destructive disease and restore our freedom.
For up to the minute information on the virus and vaccines, visit the CDC website.
If you want to contribute to the national effort to achieve herd immunity, and protect the people you work with, you can get your personnel or employees vaccinated via TrueCare24.
TrueCare24 is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses. Company provides end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.