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February 6, 2021

Mild side effects of Covid-19 vaccines are normal: experts

Top Story

February 6, 2021

KARACHI: Certain reactions after a vaccination, redness, swelling or pain around the injection site are normal. Fatigue, fever, headache and aching limbs are also not uncommon in the first three days after vaccination, Germany news agency DW reports. These normal vaccine reactions are usually mild and subside after a few days. They show that the vaccine is working.

Accordingly, such typical vaccination reactions have also been reported after receiving the BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and the Russian Sputnik V vaccines, which are already in use.

In addition, there were also individual cases of sometimes severe side effects after vaccination, such as allergic shocks. Overall, the approved vaccines are safe, according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some of the new vaccines — so-called mRNA vaccines contain only a blueprint for a component of the COVID-19 pathogen. Others are so-called vector vaccines that use harmless adenoviruses as transporters to introduce the surface protein of SARS-CoV-2, the spike protein, and thereby trigger the immune response.

According to a Germany’s DW, three vaccines are currently under development in China. They are the vaccines from the companies Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine is called CoronaVac, Sinopharm’s Vero and CanSino Biologics vaccine called Ad5-nCoV or Convidecia.

Only partial data on the efficacy of the vaccines has been released from their respective phase II and III trials. Sinopharm was the first company to officially announce data at the turn of 2020.

The situation is also still unclear with regard to approval of the vaccines. More than a million people have already been vaccinated with Sinopharm's vaccine, but this was done either as part of studies or with emergency approval.

The Sinopharm vaccine called Vero is based on an inactivated virus. Phase III trials for Vero have been conducted in 10 countries worldwide, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Peru, Morocco, Argentina, Jordan and Pakistan. Phase III trials for Vero have been conducted in 10 countries worldwide, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Peru, Morocco, Argentina, Jordan and Pakistan. Quoting a Chinese physician the UK’s Daily Mail, claimed that the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinopharm is considered most unsafe due to 73 side effects. Some of the side effects includes blindness, high blood pressure and loss of taste and disturbed frequency of urine. This was reported in a blog published on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, but since then that blog has been removed from the site. This was also reproduced by Taiwan News, Apple Daily and Vice of America. Chinese doctors dubbed the information as misleading and unsubstantiated given unnecessary hype.

BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine is jointly manufactured jointly by Germany and US, BNT162b2 vaccine. The typical vaccination reactions such as fatigue and headache were less frequent and weaker in older patients. However, since this mRNA vaccine has been in use, a few patients had a severe allergic reaction immediately after the injection. One patient in the USA and two Britons even went into anaphylactic shock, associated with reddening of the skin and shortness of breath.

Since these individuals either had no previous illnesses or were not known to be allergic to certain vaccine ingredients, the British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ( MHRA) warned in particular people who are allergic to certain vaccine ingredients, or have already suffered an anaphylactic shock, against getting the vaccination. The manufacturers do not see any direct connection to the vaccination in the case of a US physician with no previous illnesses who died from a brain hemorrhage due to immune thrombocytopenia 16 days after receiving the vaccination. This occurs when the immune system reduces the number of platelets.

Headlines were made when 33 people in Norway died a few days after the first vaccination, all of whom were more than 75 years old and had severe underlying diseases.

According to London’s King’s College 37 per cent of those who received Pfizer vaccine in January experienced slight pain and swelling at the spot of the jab. 14 per cent people receiving first dose reported fever, shivering and body pains which dissipated in a matter of days. All trials and experiences are confirming the vaccine to be safe and efficacious. The vaccinated people however need to continue to observe social distancing as nothing gives 100 per cent safety against Covid-19. Doctors have advised taking paracetamol for management of blisters and injury marks on the upper arm following vaccination. Some experts are of the viewpoint that if fever and other symptoms appear following the jab Covid 19 test is mandatory.

According to CNN, certain side effects of the vaccine go away in one or two days. However some people may or may not report any side effects. In case of those who do not experience any side effect it does not mean that the vaccine is not working. In most cases, the side effects have been reported after the second dose. According to CNBC, high grade fever lasting over two days could be indicative of Covid-19 for which tests becomes mandatory. It underlined contacting a physician to ascertain the cause if any of the symptoms last longer than two days.

Another vaccine the mRNA-1273, from US company Moderna is also a gene-based vaccine.

During the clinical trials, participants tolerated the vaccine well, according to the manufacturer and testing authorities. The usual vaccination reactions were only mild or moderate and didn't last long. However, almost 10% of those vaccinated with mRNA-1273 experienced fatigue, according to an interim report by an independent surveillance panel.

Severe allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine are "rare," according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is basing that assessment on the documentation of 4,041,396 doses of the vaccine that were administered between December 21, 2020 and January 10, 2021. A total of 108 allergic reactions were recorded, but only 10 recipients went into anaphylactic shock. The CDC reported that none of the allergic reactions led to death.

A very small number of people who received the Moderna vaccine experienced facial nerve paralysis. It is possible that the side effects were not triggered by the mRNA, but by lipid nanoparticles that serve as carriers for the mRNA and are later broken down by the body.

Isolated cases of facial paralysis, mostly temporary, occurred sporadically during the clinical trials of the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but also during ongoing vaccinations in Israel.

In case of British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, an incident during clinical trials in September caused a stir because one person suffered inflammation of the spinal cord after vaccination. The trial was briefly halted until an independent panel of experts determined that the inflammation was probably not related to the vaccination. Otherwise, only typical vaccination reactions occurred with the vaccine from AstraZeneca. Again, vaccine reactions were less frequent and milder in older people. This is a vector vaccine.

In case of Russia, as early as August 2020, the vector vaccine Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V) was approved, but without waiting for phase III trials involving tens of thousands of subjects. Sputnik V uses two differently modified adenoviruses (rAd26-S and rAd5-S). Nevertheless, Sputnik V is already being used besides Russia in many other countries, including Belarus, the UAE, India, Brazil and Argentina. In Argentina, typical vaccination reactions occurred in 317 of a total 32,013 vaccinated people, according to the Argentinian Health Ministry. There have been no reports of severe side effects following Sputnik V vaccination.

All risks and side effects registered so far are only snapshots of the past months — this must be noted despite all the excitement about the rapid vaccine development. Nothing is yet known about possible long-term effects of the individual vaccines. Only the long-term studies that accompany the vaccinations worldwide and will continue since approval will provide clarity.