By Niki Medlock da Silva

So… does the Covid vaccine give you complete protection?

The short answer is – no! Many people think the vaccine works as a shield between the virus and the body; however, you can still become infected, but your chances of becoming ill are practically nil.

In most cases, being vaccinated protects against the disease process, not the virus. When you hear that a vaccine gives 95% protection, for example, it means that this percentage of people who receive the vaccine will not become ill if they are exposed to the virus. They will either be completely protected or get the infection but not have any symptoms as their immune system rapidly recognises and eliminates the threat. The remaining 5%, if exposed to the virus, could become ill, but not to the extent that they need to be hospitalised. We must remember that these numbers are given out by the pharmaceutical company scientists from the results of their vaccine trials. The truth is that only time will tell what the real percentages are,regarding immunity, as worldwide more and more people are vaccinated.

We should remember that flu vaccines have been around for many years and, realistically, it reduces the risk of having to seek medical assistance by 40 – 60%, depending on the viral strain of that particular year. But because vaccines are not 100% effective against infection, and this virus is efficient at reproducing and spreading, we will probably be wearing masks and social distancing for some time to come. Another important advantage to vaccination is that, even though vaccinated people can get the virus, it will not be able to easily and rapidly reproduce in large enough numbers to transmit to others, including unvaccinated people giving their immune system time to react naturally.

One of the aims of vaccination programs is to achieve a “herd immunity” threshold which is only possible with high vaccination rates, as well as natural resistance from people who were exposed to the disease and created their own antibodies. The theory is that if enough people are immune to a virus and one person becomes infected, there is nowhere for the virus to go, making it harder for it to transmit to those at risk, such as babies or people with weak immune systems. Whilst not every individual may be immune, the group is protected and in a perfect world, this should mean infection rates would drop and the disease would die out eventually. But COVID-19 is a “novel” virus and we are all learning as we go along. Humans have not been infected by this virus before, meaning everyone in the world is at risk.

Many unknown aspects of this virus can only be studied over an undetermined period of time to discover more efficient ways of combating this disease. These include how long immunity lasts, either through vaccination or having had the infection? Will it become like the flu virus that keeps on giving, where we must be repeatedly vaccinated? Are the current vaccines effective against variants that are surfacing as the virus mutates? What are the harmful short/long-term side effects of these vaccines and the actual virus itself? When vaccinated, how infectious are you if you catch the virus, even though the number of viral components in your system is diminished? Scientists have yet to find out what is the “infectious dose“ for COVID-19!

As you can see, there are many more questions than answers at this time so, even though vaccination is a very big step in the right direction, we must continue to carry out the ´mechanical´ measures to keep infection down – wearing masks, social distancing and disinfection methods.

Luzdoc´s clinic in Lagos, MEDILAGOS, will be reopening from Monday 03/05/2021.

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