The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is expected to approve the vaccine imminent It is scheduled to start rolling out the vaccine next month, this development may seem a cause for concern about the safety of the vaccine.
But there are several reasons they shouldn’t be.
What we know
We have not seen this issue reported in any other country that has introduced a Pfizer vaccine.
In other countries, there may be a greater focus on frontline healthcare workers in the first place. So if there is any association between deaths in the elderly and this vaccine, it may not be clear yet.
It is also based on monitoring. Norway may have a particularly rapid monitoring and reporting system, which efficiently tracks everyone who has been vaccinated and quickly reports any negative results.
We expect surveillance reports from other countries with an active vaccination program soon, adding to the critical data to build a more accurate picture of vaccine safety across different populations.
Norway’s reports will sensitize other countries to closely monitor recipients of the vaccine, especially in nursing homes for the elderly and vulnerable. We may see more reports on this matter in the coming weeks from other countries.
But we may not. We have limited information regarding these cases in Norway. The people who were said to have died were very old and weak. Many of them had major underlying health conditions common in the elderly, and may have been nearing the end of their lives independently of the vaccine.
Although it is under investigation, it is important to note that deaths have not been conclusively linked to vaccine complications. at the same time, Australian experts Call for calm.
Vaccines and the elderly
In the recent history of vaccines, we have not seen any trends of mortality among the elderly after vaccination. For example, there is no annual directory Flu vaccine It has been linked to deaths in the elderly – or people of any age.
It is important to note that when making a comparison with the influenza vaccine or another vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, we are comparing apples and oranges.
Pfizer vaccine is based on MRNA technology, And it’s completely new to human vaccine. This technique provides a portion of the genetic material for SARS-CoV-2 virus In the form of a messenger RNA (mRNA). This instructs cells to make a part of the virus that stimulates an immune response that prevents infection and protects against disease.
All vaccines are designed to generate an immune response – albeit in different ways – to prepare our bodies to fight the virus if we encounter it.
Creating an immune response leads to inflammation in the body. Some people will not experience any side effects from the vaccine, but the infection can appear in different ways in different people and between different vaccines. This could mean a reaction at the injection site, fatigue, or feeling unwell.
The deaths have been reported in Norway Fever, nausea, and diarrheaWhich, while it is at the acute end of the spectrum of vaccine side effects, would be tolerable for the vast majority of people.
How different people will respond to mRNA is what we are now beginning to understand. This vaccine will likely have more serious effects in the elderly and frail people where the initial inflammatory response can be overwhelming.
But it is still too early to draw any conclusions.
The side effects show that the vaccine generates an immune response
Vaccines need to generate an immune response to function, and side effects are a byproduct of our bodies increasing an immune response.
While the deaths are sad, they should not be a cause for concern. This actually tells us that the vaccine stimulates an immune response. For most people, this response will be completely tolerable and will lead to the development of an immune memory that protects you from severe COVID-19.
The big challenge with any vaccine is to generate enough of the immune response so you are protected from the disease in question, but not so much that you are exposed to serious adverse effects. The location of this streak in the sand varies for different people, but it is likely that older and weaker vaccine recipients are most at risk of severe, potentially life-threatening reactions.
So for those who may be at greater risk of infection, we may wish to be extra cautious. When approving a Pfizer vaccine, TGA may consider advising against this specific vaccine for elderly and frail people, especially those with other conditions who are likely to be nearing the end of their lives.
Ideally, the vaccine should be considered on a case-by-case basis for this group, carefully weighing the risks and benefits in each situation, based on the best available data.