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EMU Dr. Fazıl Küçük Faculty of Medicine Explains COVID-19 Vaccine and Mutation

EMU Dr. Fazıl Küçük Faculty of Medicine Explains COVID-19 Vaccine and Mutation

Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Faculty of Medicine and Marmara University joint program academic staff member, Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Specialist Dr. Buket Ertürk Şengel wrote an article titled “COVID-19 Vaccination and Mutation – The End Point in COVID-19 Vaccination”. Dr. Şengel stated the following in her article:

“Social distance, use of masks, disinfection of hands and surfaces are very important in protection from COVID-19. In addition to these measures, vaccine development efforts have started rapidly. One of them, Sinovac (CoronoVac), is an inactive vaccine produced by traditional methods. Inactivated vaccines are vaccines that do not cause a disease, but that produce an immune response through an inactivated virus. It is considered safer due to its containment of dead viruses. Hepatitits A and influenza (flu vaccine) vaccines are also vaccines prepared through this method. According to the Brazilian phase III results; it prevents very serious (requiring intensive hospital care) and moderate (hospitalized) COVID-19 cases by100 %, and mild and symptomatic cases by 50%. According to the interim evaluation of the vaccine, its efficacy has been found to be 91.25 % in Turkey.”

Why is It Allowed while It is being Developed ?

“Phase 1/2 study with volunteers over 60 years of age started on October 31, 2020. The results of this study were published in Lancet on February 3, 2021. It has been stated that the vaccine creates an adequate antibody response in this age group and it is safe. It has been reported that the resulting side effects are mild and mostly pain at the injected area. Emergency use was approved by the Chinese government for the vaccine on June 29, 2020. On January 14, 2021 in Turkey, it began to be implemented especially on the healthcare workers. Why is it allowed while it is being developed? The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states that when faced with such a threat to the public health, if the available data is convincing enough at that time, as soon as the phase III studies show that the benefits outweigh the risks, even if the phase III studies are not completed, drug regulatory authorities can give immedieate/early approval to use. In fact, this is exactly what is being applied. Considering the bad results caused by COVID-19, it seems that the benefit of the vaccine is quite high. No serious side effects have been encountered in studies conducted to date and in current vaccination practices.”

“There Are Hesitations Against Vaccination In Our Society”

“BioNThec and Moderna vaccines are prepared with mRNA technology, which are approved for urgent use by the US Drug and Food Administration. This method is used for the first time as a vaccine. According to Phase III data, efficiency of over 90% has been demonstrated in all

age groups. Pain at the injected area was reported as the most common side effect. However, there are still hesitations in our society against the vaccine. WHO published a list of 10 items threatening global health on January 18, 2020, and the list includes “vaccine reservations” as well as air pollution, climate changes, influenza and antibiotic resistance.

“What is a Mutation?”

It is hoped that the epidemic will be controlled by vaccinating the society, but with all these practices, different mutations are reported from many countries. Mutation refers to the permanent change that occurs in the genetic material (DNA or RNA) of an organism or virus. RNA viruses have faster mutation rates as they reproduce and evlove continuously and rapidly. SARS-CoV-2 is in the RNA virus group. The new virus that develops when the virus mutates is called a “Variant”. According to the WHO, 4 different variants are currently circulating in the world. The variants were detected in December 2020 in England, South Africa and Brazil. Unfortunately, these variants have started to spread rapidly all over the world. Since the transmission of these variants is much easier and faster, COVID-19 cases have increased. Whether it causes a milder or more severe disease, whether it will be detected by specific diagnostic tests, whether the current drugs used will be effective in treatment and whether it will change the effect on COVID-19 vaccines are questions that are not clear to answer.

Until we find answers to these questions, we should continue to obey the measures we have taken so far. It is essential to protect both ourselves and others in the community. Social distance of at least 1.5 meters, masks, frequent hand hygiene, disinfection of surfaces, isolation and quarantine rules must be followed. Considering the easier transmission of the mutated virus, it may be beneficial to minimize the time that we stay in closed places and to double the number of masks we use. Even if we are vaccinated, we must continue to follow these rules, considering the risks that may arise.”