Video Essay Transcript: The novel Coronavirus, a slogan we’ve come to fully understand and immerse into. A term in which has changed every single piece of our lives from safety and health to deciding to visit loved ones or not. The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, a deadly virus which has plagued our world into a pandemic and is on the fore front of everyone’s mind. With every major outbreak in history, a vaccine follows. Vaccines ranging for smallpox to polio now, the Coronavirus, we see the growing efforts to slow the spread, save lives, and hopefully one day eradicate the virus with the help of vaccines. Today we have many vaccines ranging from protein-based to the new mRNA vaccines with their booster counterparts. Many first world countries are succeeding with vaccination rates, but the question lingers, how long does my original vaccine and booster last? In recent 2021 study completed on testing the third dose of the Moderna mRNA Booster, we can see the booster’s importance for those who need it, but not for everyone.
COVID-19 in which we are all familiar with is a cold-like virus that attacks the respiratory tract causing anything from loss of taste to difficulty breathing to even death. The COVID-19 Vaccines were designed to not necessary stop us from getting the virus, but rather not have life-threatening symptoms or be hospitalized. To fully understand what a booster shot is, one must understand what the COVID-19 vaccine is and how it works. Majority of classic vaccines such as the Flu Shot are designed to “cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies then provide protection against infection” according to the CDC.gov. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is a whole different sequence, here is a short video explain how the vaccine works.
The vaccine is a crucial piece in helping not only our nation, but the world in hopes to return to what we called “normal”. The vaccine whether it be J&J, or an mRNA base is a must have in today’s worldly society. Today, many first world countries worry on how long the vaccine will last, while many other countries worry about getting their first dose which is a major problem to investigate. The vaccine is needed to not only protect yourself but to protect those around you, but now we are faced with a new question- The third shot. When we discuss the booster, the discussion revolves around that third shot. As variants have arisen such as the Delta Variant many scientists are asking themselves who may need this booster and most importantly is it safe? A study completed in August of 2021 hoped to find these answers to better help the public. The question was asked is the vaccine strong enough to protect those at risk and is a third booster necessary while being safe. The study was designed and set-up only to see if the third booster for the mRNA vaccine, Moderna, which is similar to the Pfizer vaccine, can protect those at risk of serious risk of complications from COVID-19. This study was deemed successful. According to the New England Journal where the study was published, “A third dose of mRNA vaccine in transplant recipients had substantially higher immunogenicity than placebo” (Williams W, Inglefinger JR, 1233-1234) and they finally recommended “that a third-dose booster Covid-19 vaccine should be considered” (Williams W, Inglefinger JR, 1233-1234). To benefit these findings in the study, the FDA in conjunction with Pfizer Biotech have also approved for a third booster shot ONLY for those at risk or immune compromised. This is a huge necessary step for those who are at serious risk, such as those who are older than the age of 65, those with weakened immune systems, receiving cancer treatment, and individuals with organ transplants, along with anyone else meeting the “at-risk” standards.
Another important question to review is how this study was completed in order to show safe, adequate results. The original study done for the third booster used a participant group of 120 transplant recipients who have never tested positive for COVID-19 and have the Moderna Vaccine with its original booster. The individuals were also an average age of 66, which can qualify for another “at-risk” variable. The recipients were exposed to a “double blind, randomized controlled trial of a third dose of mRNA-1273 vaccine, AKA Moderna, and compared it with a placebo” (Williams W, Inglefinger JR, 1233-1234). In other words, the booster was tested amongst those at high-risk and were either injected with the third booster or a placebo and the researchers studied their antibody levels during the 4-month process. As we can see in this graph, Panel A shows the different counts of antibodies in the booster recipients versus the placebo recipients. This figure shows a greater number of antibodies for those with the booster than those who did not receive it. The goal of the study was to be above that dotted line we see at the 100 Antibody count. We must note though the placebo is still high due to the original vaccines’ presence in the study. Panel B shows the antibody rate before and after the third booster or placebo, this shows the booster led to a major increase in antibodies. Panel C shows the median and range of the neutralization percentage amongst the two. As we can see once again the booster is much above the dotted line thus showing efficiency while the placebo slowly dropped due to the original vaccine antibodies decreasing over time. The overall study done for the third booster regarding those at risk was performed well with few implications such as overall sample size, reviewing other types of vaccine, and gender differences.
The important takeaways from the recent FDA announcement and from this study is in connection with two main points. First the vaccine works, and it works better than expected lasting much longer than anticipated. Second, the booster is NOT meant for those who are healthy and not at risk of serious complications of Covid-19. The FDA has stated clearly, “Today’s action does not apply to people who are not immunocompromised”, so in clear format, do not get the third booster if you’re healthy, there is no need, the vaccines are holding strong. As FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock M.D. has said, “this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines”. As we can see even in the study for those who are compromised, the original vaccine presence is still holding strong and is doing much better in those not-at-risk individuals. In another study found in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers tested the Moderna vaccine. The experimental study was completed in order to answer the hypothesis of the Moderna vaccine working in the body’s immune system to stop Covid-19. As we can see on this table, from ages 18 to 65 have a 95.6% coverage rate, while those 65 and older have an 86.4% coverage rate (Baden L, et al. 403-416). The at-risk individual from ages 18 to 65 years still has a 94.4% coverage rate (Baden L, et al. 403-416). This study was completed with a sample size of 30,430 volunteers who were randomly assigned a vaccine or placebo and tested against the virus (Baden L, et al. 403-416). This information shows the strength of the original mRNA shots and helps with the conclusion of only the at-risk needing the booster.
The discussion of a booster shot is only a first world issue, but many third world or smaller nations are still competing even for the original first shot which could lead to larger complications. The question we must ask is, is vaccinating the world a priority or giving rounds of booster to those who are lucky enough to get them? Here is a short video showing how nations are getting vaccinated, pay attention to the larger nations and the smaller nations.
According to the University of Utah, “Every time a virus replicates, errors can occur, which AKA mutations, occur in its genetic material”, essentially the more a virus spreads, the more likely it will develop a mutation such as the Delta Variant. This could pave the way for future vaccine resistant variants. Therefore, the need for mass vaccination in unvaccinated countries is priority number one. Here is another short clip explaining how variants occur.
The Delta Variant strain was linked to originating in the UK while the Beta strain was linked to beginning in Africa, which at the time and can still correlate, were very unvaccinated populations.
As we can see in this graph, many areas of Africa, the Middle East, and Australia are unvaccinated which pose a major risk in the fear of developing future variants. As of right now, it is important we protect those at risk, but our world’s main goal besides a cure for virus is to ensure everyone is vaccinated for Covid-19.
Covid-19 has played a major part in our lives for almost two years now, we’ve gone from a distant fear to immense lockdowns across the world. Luckily today, we have a vaccine, a vaccine which works and saves. It is important to get vaccinated and to ensure those around you who are compromised get the vaccine and get the booster shot. For those of us who are healthy and vaccinated continue being safe, but do not rush to overly inject yourself due to the unforeseen side effects of the shot. The booster shot is great for those who are at risk and the vaccine is a project the world collectively must work together on. As the United Nations states “No one is safe, until everyone is”.
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(Apologize for poor visual quality)