BUHealth: Vaccine effectiveness strong against variants and allergic reactions are trivial.

These two accessible, free JAMA Network articles have excellent answers to some common questions. Below are a few selected quotes with key parts in RED.

My notes are in italics, red italics if important. 2 minutes if you just read the red.

Figuring Out Whether COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Against Variants

“How well do the COVID-19 vaccines developed so far protect against these novel coronavirus spinoffs?”

“In Scotland, researchers estimated that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was up to 85% effective and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine up to 94% effective in preventing COVID-19–related hospitalizations 28 to 34 days after a single dose—the UK policy is to provide the second dose 12 weeks later.”

“The study, posted February 22 but not peer reviewed, found a 70% reduction in both types of infection [UK and SA] 21 days after participants received their first dose and an 85% reduction a week after receiving their second dose. “Overall, we’re seeing a really strong effect to reducing any infection—asymptomatic and symptomatic,” coauthor Susan Hopkins, MD, PHE strategic response director, said at a press conference. In March, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that non–peer-reviewed data from Israel showed their vaccine was 94% effective against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

“Fortunately, as the article notes, nearly all vaccines used in humans prevent asymptomatic infection and spread.”

This means that it is most likely that we will not need to keep wearing masks once vaccinated, once the data are in.

“In general, vaccines that are effective in reducing infections do have major impacts on reducing transmission,” said Goodman, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship. “It is probable that these vaccines will reduce transmission.”

Mounting evidence supports that notion. In a study of UK health care workers immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, participants underwent biweekly polymerase chain reaction testing and twice weekly rapid antigen testing to help investigators determine rates of asymptomatic and symptomatic infections.

Source: JAMA Network Medical News & Perspectives

March 17, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines vs Variants—Determining How Much Immunity Is Enough

Figuring Out Whether COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Against Variants

There is continuing concern by some people about getting an allergic reaction to receiving a vaccine. This JAMA article addresses this for Pfizer and Moderna.


JAMA Insights

February 12, 2021

Reports of Anaphylaxis After Receipt of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines in the US—December 14, 2020-January 18, 2021

Tom T. Shimabukuro, MD, MPH, MBA1; Matthew Cole, MPH2; John R. Su, MD, PhD, MPH1



Here is the key result from their study


“During December 14, 2020 through January 18, 2021, a total of 9 943 247 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 7 581 429 doses of the Moderna vaccine were reported administered in the US”


No deaths from anaphylaxis after vaccination with either product were reported.


“…mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the US has confirmed that anaphylaxis [allergic reactions]  following vaccination is a rare event, with rates of 4.7 cases/million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses administered and 2.5 cases/million Moderna vaccine doses administered, based on information through January 18, 2021.


Of those with an allergic reaction, 77% of those using Pfizer and 84% of those taking Moderna had a prior reported history of allergies or allergic reactions.


When considered in the context of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19,9 the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of anaphylaxis, which is treatable. Because of the acute, life-threatening nature of anaphylaxis, immediate epinephrine administration is indicated for all cases. CDC guidance on use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines8 and management of anaphylaxis is available.10 All facilities administering COVID-19 vaccines should have the necessary supplies and trained medical personnel available to manage anaphylaxis.


To put this in perspective the annual chance of getting hit by lighting is about 4  per million in Montana and 0.25 per million in California, and averages 1 per million per year nationwide.


About 1 in ten people if hit by lightning die, versus so far 0 in ten million from getting vaccines.


Get a vaccine if it is offered to you.

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