This article will explain about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, and why those who are eligible for the vaccine should be vaccinated.

How do vaccines work?

First and foremost, we must understand the body’s mechanism of defending itself against pathogens (i.e. developing immunity).

The most effective way that has been discovered to aid the body in ‘fighting’ against viruses is by manually triggering the body’s immune response to do so. But how do we make the body trigger an immune response to the specific type of virus?

Historically, scientists have produced vaccines consisting of a weakened version of the viruses in order for the body to ‘learn’ from it and hence develop immunity. Once immunity has been developed, the body is then able to ‘fight’ any viruses of same or similar strains, that exist naturally.

Scientists have, however, not yet been able to use this existing method of building immunity, to deal with COVID-19, hence the emergence of 3 new methods.

The three new types of vaccines

1) Genetic engineering of mRNA #1: the first method of genetic engineering involves genetically engineering mRNA (a single strand of a DNA coil), to produce a particular type of mRNA, in which when it interacts with ribosomes in a cell, it can produce the same proteins as that of the COVID-19 virus. This principle of the method is essentially allowing the body to ‘learn’ about this certain protein, and it executes a ‘direct command’ hence why vaccines that use this method are very effective: 90-95%. Vaccines that use this method are Moderna, Pfizer.

2) Genetic engineering of mRNA #2: the second method of genetic engineering involves the production of what is known as viral vectors. Viral vectors, essentially, are the virus that has been genetically engineered to be ‘infertile’, so that it is unable to reproduce, hence making it impotent; but still allowing the body to learn from the existing, weakened version of viruses, in preparation for activating an immune response to deal with the actual, deadlier version of the virus. This method is slightly less effective than the first mRNA modification method: 60-80%. Vaccines that use this method are AstraZeneca-Oxford, Sputnik5, J&J.

3) Injecting dead version of the virus: this method involves body cells ‘learning’ of the method to ‘fight’ and develop immunity against the virus, by ‘learning’ from the antigens of the dead virus ‘corpses’ that are injected into a person’s body. This is done in order for the body to develop immunity, so if it happens to be attacked by the live version of the virus in the future, it is able to defend against it. An analogy of this is sending, into the body, a troop of dead soldiers who are still wielding weapons; however, as they are dead, the weapons are unable to be used and, are therefore unable to cause harm to our body.

However, a disadvantage this poses is that there is only so much the body can learn from just the antigens, (or ‘weapons’), alone, hence why this method produces vaccines with the lowest effectiveness: 50-65%. A vaccine that uses this method is China’s Sinovac.

This being said, why is it that everyone won’t use the most effective vaccines Moderna, Pzifer?

Why won’t everyone use the most effective vaccines?

- Side effects: the most effective vaccines come with the strongest side effects.

- Price: China’s Sinovac, although less effective than Oxford’s AstraZeneca is actually more expensive as its manufacturing process is more complicated.

- Influence: people tend to lean towards getting the vaccine that is most recommended by the particular country’s doctors. One of the most important factors that influences which vaccine or vaccines are opted for in a particular country is the degree in which the country’s government values or bases its decisions on scientific and medical insight. For example, countries whose governments heavily value scientific and medical insight will surely opt for the most effective vaccine, but some other countries may also consider factors such as cost of vaccination, hence, why not all countries’ doctors may recommend the Moderna, Pfizer vaccines.

Why should everyone eligible for the vaccine be vaccinated?

Frankly, not everyone can be vaccinated, since there are some children and people with underlying issues that are unable to do so. Fortunately though, although having everyone vaccinated is impossible, the concept of ‘herd immunity’, which is a method of indirect protection, can help achieve results with the potential to end this pandemic.

In simple terms, ‘herd immunity’ goes by the principle that if a certain amount of people in the population has been vaccinated everyone is protected. This is because if most people are vaccinated then most of the population will be immune to COVID-19, meaning the virus is unable to spread and people with existing cases of COVID-19 can be treated, and as soon as all the infected people has been treated, COVID-19 will end.

To sum up, the government’s efforts in implementing social restrictions is not enough to completely eradicate COVID-19, only with the vaccine can it all truly end. That is why you should all get vaccinated if you can. After all, it is certainly better if our ‘soldiers’ are trained prior to the ‘fight’ rather than facing the battle head on without training, right?