RNA vaccines against Covid-19 can cause unpleasant side effects. According to medical experts, fatigue, chills and fever are not a bad sign per se: such symptoms indicate that the immune system is becoming active.
In Great Britain it is to start this week. 40 million doses of the vaccine, recently approved by emergency approval from Biontech and Pfizer, are ready for its first use in the population. The European Medicines Agency EMA, however, is taking its time until the end of December to decide on a possible approval. Continental European countries will then base their decisions on this. Authorities and governments are now called upon to find the most balanced compromise possible. On the one hand, safety and efficacy must be guaranteed, while on the other hand the pandemic must be brought under control quickly.
95 percent effective
How the novel RNA vaccines will work in the long term (in addition to the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine, a similar one from the U.S. company Moderna is about to be approved) cannot be predicted in a few weeks’ time. What is known are the short-term effects and side effects. Pfizer’s vaccine provides 95 percent protection in the over-65 age group, while Moderna’s vaccine achieves a similarly high percentage according to current data.
How a Covid 19 vaccination feels can now be read in a field report in the journal “JAMA International Medicine”: Nursing scientist Kristen R. Choi from Stanford University volunteered in August for a Phase 3 study by the Pfizer Group and received her first vaccination a few days later. As Choi writes, the study was quite unspectacular. “My arm hurt, otherwise everything was normal. I couldn’t tell whether I had received a placebo or the vaccine.
Fever flare-up after second dose
The side effects of the second dose were more pronounced one month later. “My arm hurt much more than the first time, I was nauseous, felt dizzy, had headaches and chills. The next day Choi developed a high fever, for a few hours even over 40 degrees, and a day later the symptoms had disappeared again. “I can’t say for sure, but because of the symptoms I strongly suspect that I received the vaccine, not the placebo.”
According to Pfizer’s data so far, such side effects are nothing unusual. Fever occurred in 27 percent of all vaccinations in the clinical trials, with subjects reporting fatigue most frequently (75 percent), followed by headaches (67), chills (33) and muscle aches (27).
“The immune system works”.
The fact that the Covid 19 inoculation will be “no walk in the park” was recently also emphasized by the physician Sandra Fryhofer of Emory University at a meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA). “The vaccine will be noticeable, you will not feel well – we must point this out to our patients.
Nevertheless, Patricia Stinchfield from the Minneapolis clinics said at the AMA meeting that such symptoms are more a good than a bad sign – namely an indication that the vaccine “boosts” the immune system. “It is normal when the arm hurts and patients are tired or even develop a fever. We are dealing with an immune reaction. If you feel something after the vaccination, that is exactly what you can expect.” The US vaccine researcher Paul Offit recently made a similar statement to CNN. The side effects show “that the immune system is working. One should be glad about it.”
An honest and transparent debate about the unpleasant sides of vaccination will probably be necessary for another reason as well. As Kristen Choi emphasizes in her experience report, the side effects show “unfortunate similarities” with the symptoms of Covid-19. “I can already imagine how false reports about the vaccine go viral.”
hp, Source: Robert Czepel, science.ORF.at. picture: pixabay.com
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