23rd July 2024
Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose

By Kandifo Institute


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define a vaccine as a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose. Vaccines mainly provide immunity and or protection. There is currently four different types of COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials. These are the Whole Virus, Protein Subunit, Viral Vector and the Nucleic Acid (RNA and DNA).

The Whole Virus triggers an immune response. The Whole Virus works either by using a weakened form of the virus that can replicate without causing illness or by using viruses whose genetic material has been destroyed so they cannot replicate but can still trigger an immune response. Examples of such vaccines used to fight COVID-19 are the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.


Protein Subunit

The Protein Subunit uses pieces of the pathogen (the disease-causing organism) to precipitate an immune response. This minimizes side effects but the immune response is weaker. An example is the Novavax.


Viral Vaccine

The Viral Vaccine works through giving genetic instructions to produce antigens. Examples are the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V (Gamaleya Research Institute).


Nucleic Acid

Nucleic Acid vaccines use genetic materials, either RNA or DNA to provide cells with the instructions to make the antigen. Unfortunately, no DNA or RNA vaccines have been licensed for human use. “Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardised and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods of making vaccines” (CDC, December 18, 2020). Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are examples of vaccines that use the RNA.

More vaccines

A report from WHO states that as of 18th February 2021, at least seven different vaccines across three platforms have been rolled out in countries. Vulnerable populations in all countries are the highest priority for vaccination. More than 200 additional vaccine candidates are in development, of which more than 60 are in clinical development. A release by the New York Times on 18th February 2021 shows that 70 vaccines are currently under testing in clinical trials on humans. 20 have reached the final stages of testing and at least 89 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals.


Vaccines undergo three main phases before it gets approved and authorized for use. There is a minor phase, the preclinical testing phase where the vaccine is tested on cells and given to animals. This is done to assess the immune response. The next phase, the Safety Trials phase, is then tried on a small number of people to test the dosage and safety of the vaccine and to confirm that it whets the immune system. The second phase, the Expanded Trials, is where the vaccine is tried on a larger sect of people, roughly hundred people, to see how the vaccine acts differently in them. This is to ensure safety. The final and third phase, the Efficacy trials is when the vaccine is tried on a much larger sect of people, thousands of people, to how many become infected, compared with volunteers who received a placebo. This is done so researchers and virologists can see if the vaccine is up to its task. After these phases are undergone, the vaccines are reviewed then plans for rolling out are made by the required authorities.


On January 15, 2021, the CDC authorized and recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Exactly a month afterwards, February 15, 2021, WHO declared two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine ready for emergency use. All vaccines are expected to be very effective against the newly emerged variants of the COVID-19. A report by Michelle Roberts, a health editor, BBC News Online states that; All of these vaccines require a second booster shot, but a first dose is likely to be given to as many people as possible.


The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination stands as the most effective vaccine currently. As stated early on, Pfizer Vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which means that it uses the messenger RNA to instruct cells to make the spike protein. According to a study published by the Lancet medical journal, the vaccine is 85 per cent effective against the virus within 15 to 28 days. The long-term effectiveness of the vaccine is still unknown. According to an Israeli study, just one dose of the vaccine produces a robust immune system. “It does provide reassurance that delays for whatever reason, be it the weather or problems in the supply chain — it provides some comfort knowing that those individuals who have received the one dose do achieve a good level of protection,” – Dr. Jonathan Temte, a vaccine expert at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Experts believe two doses should be administered 21 days apart based on the results of clinical trials. The age limit is 16 and above.


Side effect

The vaccine is shot into the muscles of the upper arm. At the spot where the shot was administered, there is a likelihood of experiencing pains, swellings and or redness. Chills, tiredness and headaches are the other side effects released by the CDC as at January 25, 2021.


According to the WHO release on 8th January 2021; “People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it…The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in people with various conditions that are associated with increased risk of severe disease. This includes hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver or kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled. Further studies are required for the impacts on immune-compromised persons. The interim recommendation is that immune-compromised persons who are part of a group recommended for vaccination may be vaccinated, though when possible, not before receiving information and counselling. Persons living with HIV are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Limited safety data exists on HIV-infected persons with well controlled disease from the clinical trials. Known HIV-positive vaccine recipients should be informed, and when possible, counselled in relation to the available data.”


Moderna vaccine

Moderna vaccine is another type of mRNA vaccine and this implies that the Moderna vaccine works just like the Pfizer. Canada, EU, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and others have approved and authorized this vaccine. The vaccine requires around -20C for shipping. Research affirms that the B.1.1.7 and the 501Y.V2, do not alter the effectiveness of the Moderna mRNA vaccine. The vaccine is safe for persons 18 and above. The CDC advices that the second dose of the vaccine should not be administered earlier than a month.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (AZD1222) has also been interim recommendations for emergency use by WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE). The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine) is a viral vector vaccine that uses a harmless virus to carry the same genetic material into the body.


The vaccine is 76% effective. It can be stored at temperatures seen in common refrigeration. “Vaccination is recommended for persons with comorbidities that have been identified as increasing the risk of severe COVID-19, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes. Although further studies are required for persons living with HIV or auto-immune conditions or who are immunocompromised, people in this category who are part of a group recommended for vaccination may be vaccinated after receiving information and counselling. Vaccination can be offered to people who have had COVID-19 in the past. But individuals may wish to defer their own COVID-19 vaccination for up to six months from the time of SARS-CoV-2 infection, to allow others who may need the vaccine more urgently to go first. Vaccination can be offered to breastfeeding women if they are part of a group prioritized for vaccination. WHO does not recommend discontinuation of breastfeeding after vaccination…People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it. The vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age pending the results of further studies.” – A WHO release dated 11th February, 2021. The Oxford Vaccine is said to be the easiest vaccine among the 3 approved vaccines since it does not require extremely cold temperatures to store.


The Ghanaian government is spending $200 million to procure 2.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which is licensed to the Serum Institute of India, the Oxford vaccine. Issues pertaining to storage under a particular temperature is defined no cause for alarm since the vaccine does not require extremely cold temperatures to survive. The procurement of enough vaccines is the goal of the President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. These vaccines are going to be absolutely free.


Kandifo Institute commends the President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Ministry of Health and all health personnel for their foresight and contributions in containing the virus.


The Institute still emphasizes on the fact that preventive measures or safety protocols are key to reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Human behavior is really important as at now. The more people get infected, the more the chances for a mutation of the virus to occur. This implies that the virus has a lesser chance to mutate when there is limitation in its spread, and this is achievable through the maintaining of COVID safeguards. People must remember the nose masks should be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially around people who do not live with you. Keeping a distance of at least 6 feet. i.e., 2 arm lengths from other people. Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Washing of hands with soap under running water and or use of the hand sanitizer frequently. Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces regularly. Exercising, eating well and monitoring health regularly. etc. must be encouraged and a need to avoid close contact with persons who show signs of any respiratory infections.




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