This is the sixth of a series of Covid-19 newsletters from FDIME (Foundation for the Development of Internal Medicine in Europe). The aim of the newsletters is to present qualified answers to the public, specifically on issues in which internists have a saying.
In this newsletter (FAQ) you may read the latest and important news on the vaccines.
FDIME is a non-profit organizations, which aims to improve medical care for patients in Europe and has several activities promoting medical research and medical education of young European specialists in internal medicine. FDIME supports young internists to attend the European School of Internal Medicine, participate in the European Exchange program and also provide grants for research in Internal Medicine.
You are also invited to pose additional questions, which we can try to answer in one of our next newsletters.
More than 38’000 people received the vaccine twice (day 1 and day 21) and seem to have protection. Generally, study persons are more likely to be healthy and young. But vaccines have to be safe and effective independent of the age of the person and also in high risk, e.g. persons with lung disease or diabetes, etc. It is not known yet, how many doses of vaccine are needed and for how long immunity and protection lasts. In large clinical trials also side effects have to be looked at. Independent review is needed too. All this information is needed before a vaccine is approved by national registries. The Biontech Covid-19 vaccine is available most likely early to mid 2021 and gives protection for at least 90 %. At the same time Moderna announced their mRNA-1273 vaccine of more than 94% efficacy. The commercial production of the vaccine will start in Switzerland next year by Lonza. Another frontrunner vaccine was developed by the university of Oxford and pharmaceutical company Astra, which induced an immune response in young and old adults when exposed to non-replicating weak viral vector containing the target antigen of SARS-CoV-2. Due to a low infection rate during summer, the study is delayed. Now (231120) it has been communicated that this vaccine will be available soon and gives protection for 60 – 90 %. CanSino, a Chinese company uses the same vaccine type. Sputnik V is also an adeno-viral vector based vaccine registered by the Russian Health Ministry.
Science is like a puzzle. Many pieces are needed to see the whole picture. Interpretation of only one piece can be risky. Still, scientists are excited about every piece, pharmaceutical companies are ambitious to be first with new products, politicians are obliged to provide good health care, etc. New puzzle parts reveal new insights and are taken into account and might change the whole interpretation. That is science. But with every puzzle part we get closer to the aim: better health for humans.
Author: Verena Briner
The Foundation for the Development of Internal Medicine (FDIME),
Daniel Sereni, Ramon Pujol, Jan Willem Elte.
With the help of Imad Hatem, Nica Cappellini, Lorenzo Dagna, Chris Davidson, Runolfur Palsson, Stefan Lindgren, Vereny Briner, Werner Bauer (in random order).