All COVID-19 vaccines beneficial: Professor

The Deputy Director of Australia’s Burnet Institute has told the Samoa Observer that all COVID-19 vaccines currently available offer protection against the virus.

Professor David Anderson told the Samoa Observer on Monday that while information is still emerging about the different major vaccines all have some advantages. 

In western countries, the main vaccines on the market are manufactured by AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson.

Dr. Anderson said both that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rely upon cold-temperature storage, while AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson can still function while being kept at regular levels of refrigeration. 

That makes the latter two brands much easier to store and to transport, the medical expert said. 

He said that the Johnson and Johnson branded vaccine is the only type of vaccine that officially requires a single dose to be effective. 

But he added that new evidence is now published showing that while other vaccinations also offer some degree of protection after a single dose, patients who receive a second immunisation are protected against the virus for longer.

"The second dose that you are recommended to get three weeks or whatever later will boost your immunity and mean that you will stay protected for longer," Dr. Anderson said.

Dr. Anderson said that people’s immunity fades over time and the virus changes nearly every year.

"But it does look like COVID-19 is changing as well and that is likely to be an ongoing problem," he said.

New variations of the virus may escape the vaccine therefore new vaccines will be needed, he said. 

Dr. Anderson said that responding to the changes in the virus would require updating the vaccine’s genetic code.

"When [viruses] replicate, mutations arise. Most mutations don’t do anything and they either die out or they don't make any real change to the virus but sometimes you get changes that can either make the virus easier to transmit to people," he said.

He had made reference to the current United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 believed to be between 30 to 50 per cent easier to transmit to people.

He further noted that some new strains of the virus are already showing resistance to vaccinations, specifically a recent mutation linked to South Africa,

When asked about the COVID-19 vaccines from China, Dr. Anderson echoed his earlier comments on the other vaccines.

"I think the Chinese pharmaceutical industry is very good at making vaccines," he said.

He has no concern about the varieties of vaccines produced in China but he explained that their vaccines have not been tested to the same extent as western alternatives. 

When asked about which vaccination variation should be brought to Samoa, Dr. Anderson said that while all may be equally effective there are significant advantages to using those that do not require ultra-cold storage. 

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