WMAR-2 News and GBMC join forces to talk about the different vaccines being used to protect the community from COVID-19. WMAR-2 News Mark Roper and his interview with Dr. Theodore Bailey, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at GBMC as he breaks down what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.
There are a few different vaccines, by different companies, is one vaccine better than the other?
Dr. Bailey: If you have access to the vaccine, getting vaccinated sooner rather than later would be the priority. I wouldn’t say “no I’m going to wait” and be unvaccinated for a period of time to hold out for another vaccine. I think the margins between them are fairly subtle, that the most important thing would be to become vaccinated. When we think about what we did in the last year we saw very large scale studies done in really amazing pace, we’re talking about tens of thousand people enrolled in studies we were able to demonstrate high protective levels but the level of detail that kind of a study can generate is not great. It generated very large-scale data that this is an incredibly protective set of vaccines, but we’re going to get into very fine grain of detail over time. That kind of detail does take time to accumulate. The big picture, that it’s highly protective, it’s 90% effective and that’s very well confirmed and that’s the most important thing.
What about the next strain? Will these vaccines be worthless?
Dr. Bailey: One thing to recognize the appearance of the new strains should not eliminate the older strains. These strains are not truly in competition with one another. There has been a very small percentage of the human population, if you can believe it, that have become infected. There is a very vast number of people who are vulnerable to COVID and infection who do not have natural immunity, from having been infected and who are not yet vaccinated. Because of that there are plenty of human beings for each of those strains to infect. There is going to be small levels of competition but so many possible vulnerable people that we’re going to see the older strains persist for a good long time an so there will be no consolation to passing on the vaccine and becoming infected with the older strains.
What happens if I do have some sort of allergic reaction?
Dr. Bailey: We are seeing a fair amount of local muscle pain, at the site, and we we're also seeing generalized body aches, faintness and lightheadedness. This seems to be worse with the second injection rather than the first, probably because the immune system has been primed. What I would say is rest and maintain fluids. Now if there is a more severe thing where we're talking about airways, like you are short of breath or having trouble breathing, this is the kind of thing where you would want to be seen urgently, because, like other vaccines that is a possibility.
What about the new vaccines that are on the horizon?
Dr. Bailey: So they are studying. AstraZeneca, for instance, is doing data on does this actually prevent viral shedding or does it prevent transmission. We are seeing a broadening of their assessment and not just does it prevent disease but is it also going to prevent transmission. These are trials that are on-going. Even the trials that we have already announced, as 95% protective, these are still trials that enrolled so many people that we are still watching their immunity. The other thing we need to know still is how long is that protective effect present. What they did was called an interim analysis, after a certain amount of illnesses arose within the trials, then they lifted the lid to see who got ill. Was it the people in the placebo, or was it the people who got the vaccine? They saw a dramatic difference. Most of the infections, the very vast majority, were in the placebo group, the folks that didn't truly receive a vaccine. But that was only 200 infections out of something like 30-some-thousand volunteers in those trials. Those people are still out in the world, and potentially exposed to COVID and it's still of interest whether or not we're starting to see differences in the rates of infections. The older trials are not done. They were just simply studied at an interim, or intermediate point, and it was found to already demonstrate very strong protective effect at that point in time.
To hear more from Dr. Theodore Bailey about vaccines check out the full interview.