How reliable are the Covid-19 testings?And how safe and effective are the Covid-19 Vaccines?

The world received the biggest shock when Coronavirus disease was declared a pandemic by WHO in 2020.It first raised awareness as an epidemic in Wuhan.

But as humans, who would have predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic was going to eat up into several economies, and system of things around the world.

Millions have died as a result, who knows what more it can affect, not regarding it’s prognosis. Then, the pursuit for Covid-19 vaccines began.

A whole lot of resources, time and efforts have been put into this for the benefit of mankind. How effective these vaccines are as well as their testing methods shall be explored right here.

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS DISEASE?
Covid-19 is an infectious disease which is caused by the novel coronavirus. It belongs to the family of coronavirus that causes diseases that range from common cold to respiratory illnesses. It was first discovered in the city of Wuhan in December 2019.

Other members of it’s family include MERS( Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Covid-19 as named by the WHO stands for corona virus disease 2019.

HOW IS COVID-19 SPREAD?
It is transmitted through direct contact with an infected individual through respiratory droplets from sneezing, coughing, shaking hands, touching faces.

Also, contact through affected surfaces such as door handles, rails, tables, files, etc. Most likely aids the spread of the disease even though it has low survival rate.

ARE THERE PECULIAR SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
Covid-19 has an incubation period of 3-14 days. This implies that when an individual has been exposed to Covid-19, it usually takes this period of time for the corona virus to start showing symptoms.

So the individual might not know that the he has the virus and might continue to spread it, before the symptoms begin to manifest, usually as:
• Coughing
• Sneezing
Shortness of breath
• Fever
Headache

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
-Avoid close contact with individuals, this is usually done by practising social distancing.

– Wash your hands frequently and apply alcohol based hand sanitizers.

– Always wear a medical mask and dispose properly after use.

– Always seek medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms.

HOW IS COVID-19 TESTING DONE?
The purpose of Testing is to confirm the presence or absence of Covid-19. There are two basic ways to this;
• One is to check for the presence of the virus, and the other is
• To check for the antibodies induced in response to the ongoing infection.

There are types of procedures for the Covid-19 Testing, but the major ones include Nasal Swab testing, throat swab and even collection of blood samples as well as saliva, nucleic acid testing and antigen testing.

WHAT IS THE INTEGRITY OF THESE TESTINGS?
When one gets infected with covid-19, the virus multiplies in the upper respiratory tract, and when the person is tested, it indicates positivity.

But sometimes, this testing could be done rather too early or perhaps very late, and the virus might be undetected, which doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is done in laboratories, and it detects very tiny amount of corona virus when the specimens are collected without issues.

The Nasal Swab Testing involves inserting a long swab, more like a Q-tip up your nose and swirling it to get secretion for evaluation while this procedure isn’t harmful, it evokes reactions from patients which could be jerking, tearing up. So far, this testing method is more specific and accurate than the throat swab testing method.

The antigen testing detects the presence of viral proteins that incite the production of antibodies, although its less precise than nucleic acid testing which detects the virus’ generic material.

COVID -19 VACCINES: HOW SAFE ARE THEY?
The world-wide race for the production of Covid-19 vaccines began after covid-19 was declared a pandemic. And currently, there are about 200 vaccine candidates, some have been approved, others are awaiting trials. In this case, this is the highest any infectious disease has ever had.

How does the vaccine work? The ultimate goal of any vaccine is to produce immunity against the pathogen(in this case, virus) by stimulating an immune response to the antigen found in the virus.

Simply explained, a vaccine introduces a harmless version of the virus into the body to stimulate immune response.

The production of a vaccine takes a lot of time to develop, this is so because it has to undergo several stages of trials, before it can be approved and therefore brought out for use by the public. Without their approval, they cannot be put out for use /sale.

These vaccines approved have shown a high rate of efficacy and reduces the risk at which one gets the infection.

TYPES OF COVID-19 VACCINES
• Live attenuated/inactivated virus: As said earlier, the role of vaccines are to stimulate immune response and here, it is done by introducing a weakened form of the virus (attenuated) or the inactivated form of the virus( it’s genetic material has been destroyed).

This acts by evoking an immune response in the body against the corona virus and this will further prevent the contraction of the disease. Although persons with compromised immune system may risk getting infected through the attenuated vaccines.

• Protein Subunit: A protein subunit contains a part(not all) of the corona virus antigen and as it’s incomplete,can’t cause harm, it minimizes the side effects, but it could also weaken the immune system.

• Viral Vector: These vector vaccine contain genetic instructions for producing a corona virus antigen. They elicit a strong immune response while they are carried into the cells by a harmless virus.

• DNA/RNA Vaccines: These vaccines use messenger RNA or DNA code which is sent to the human cell to provide instructions on how to make a corona virus antigen, and these antigens are produced in mass, since it’s the body making the antigens. This type of vaccine is very easy to make and has a strong immune response feedback.

WHO CAN GET THESE VACCINES?
• Healthcare workers, doctors, nurses

• Geriatric persons (70 and above)

Immunocompromised individuals

• Care home workers

The current vaccines available for use which has also been approved are

• Pfizer- BioNTech (Tozinameran): It has an efficacy of 95% , given intramuscularly and administered twice with 3 weeks apart, it is an mRNA vaccine which has been approved in USA, UK, Saudi Arabia.

• Moderna vaccine (mRNA-1273): With an efficiency rate of 94%,it’s being approved for use in the USA and approved by FDA.Given intramuscularly twice within a space of 28 days.

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

• AstraZeneca (AZD1222): It is administered twice intramuscularly too with four weeks apart, it has an efficacy of 62%, although it’s still in phase 3 clinical trials.

• Janssen (Ad26.COV2.S): It’s efficacy is unknown for now,and still in phase 3 clinical trials.

• Novavax ( NVX-COV2373): A protein subunit type of vaccine, it has an unknown efficacy and still in trials.

• CaSino Biologics (Ad5-n CoV): Taken once intramuscularly, it is a human adenovirus(viral vector) and is limited to use in China.

• Gamaleya (Sputnik V): It’s use has begun in Russia, a human adenovirus which is still in phase 3 clinical trial with an efficacy of 91%.

• Sinopharm (BBIBP- CorV): Given twice within a space of 21 days, it is an inactivated vaccine type and has been approved in UAE.

These vaccines are administered mainly as intramuscular injections. After the administration of the vaccine, a vaccination card is given to help keep track of your vaccination and also serves as evidence of vaccination.

To get updated on the latest available and approved corona virus vaccines,click here.