It is amazingly effective! The trials started in July 2020, and have shown the vaccine to be 94-95% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease. The first to hit the market will be 2 injections, likely 1 month apart. The Pfizer vaccine demonstrated 54.4% efficacy after the first dose!
No. We know COVID can have a terrible, unpredictable course (short-term and long-term) in both healthy individuals and those with pre-existing conditions. If we forgo the vaccine and try for natural herd immunity at our current pace, 1.4-1.7 million Americans will die due to COVID-19 before we achieve adequate herd immunity.
As far as vaccine trials go in general, the major side effects are expected to surface in the first 4-8 weeks (which we’ve passed). The most common effects noted in the Pfizer and Moderna trials were soreness at the injection site (4-11% of recipients), muscle soreness (4-9%), fatigue (5-9%), and fever (6%). All resolved in 1-2 days.
Yes! The Pfizer vaccine, for example, enrolled 45,000+ people, of whom 25,000+ people got the actual vaccine. This is on par with all other non-COVID vaccine trials, who usually enroll 30,000+ people.
Also keep in mind that other medicines (pills) are approved after only being tested in much fewer people (~1500 people, for example. Vaccines are the most rigorously tested therapies, including the COVID vaccine.
The science itself was not rushed – the only parts bypassed were the time usually required to fundraise and the time usually spent waiting in line for the papers to be reviewed by the FDA and other regulatory administrations.
No. The mRNA enters the cell but NOT the nucleus, were your DNA lives. It gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to SARS-CoV-2. It lasts just long enough to teach the cell how to encode the protein, and then the mRNA is destroyed. Then, if you’re subsequently infected, your body recognizes the virus should not be there and the immune response is triggered to fight it off effectively.
This is an amazing technology that has been in development for many years, but was able to be accelerated due to everyone’s focus during the pandemic.