UConn’s Dr. David Banach was one of the first to be vaccinated – let him explain the COVID-19 VaccineDecember 16, 20203 min read
The initial doses of the first approved COVID-19 vaccine are here, and health care workers are part of the group that’s getting it first. One of them is Dr. David Banach, UConn Health infectious diseases physician and hospital epidemiologist, who sees the vaccine not only as a major breakthrough in the fight to end the pandemic, but also as an opportunity for his clinical colleagues to lead that effort and set the tone for the rest of the world.
Here are some key facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, with Dr. Banach providing explanations of each:
The COVID-19 vaccine won’t infect you with COVID-19.
“There is no live virus in this vaccine, so you can’t actually get infected with SARS-CoV-2 from the vaccine. What this vaccine has is messenger RNA, which is a little bit of genetic code that allows the body’s natural machinery to make the protein that will generate an immune response."
You may actually want some side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“You might get some soreness at the injection site, maybe some fatigue for a day or two, but that can be a good thing, a sign your body is making that immune response. That’s what is going to protect you in the future if you get exposed to the virus. The data from the clinical trials show the side effects – the soreness, fatigue, in some cases a short-lived fever – occur the first few days afterwards, and the rate of serious side effects is extraordinarily low for this vaccine.”
The vaccine was developed relatively quickly, but not by compromising the scientific process.
“When you look at Operation Warp Speed and how this process moved really quickly, that was really focused on the research and development piece and the manufacturing piece. Importantly, the phase 3 clinical trial was not rushed. This is the same type of clinical trial that we would do for any other vaccine. We followed people for at least two months. The clinical trials were huge, and they had diverse populations. So that part of the whole process wasn’t rushed at all, and that’s the most important part.”
Don’t throw out those masks just yet.
“We know this vaccine prevents people from developing symptomatic and severe COVID infection. I think what we don’t know is the effect it’s going to have on viral transmission, including asymptomatic shedding of virus. For instance, people who get the vaccine might still potentially shed virus, potentially at a lower level. The vaccine will prevent them from actually becoming ill, but vaccinated individuals might still be able to have virus in their nose and their respiratory system.
Immunity from the vaccine is not instantaneous.
“The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines were designed using a two-dose series in order to generate the optimal level of protection from the vaccine. That’s why getting both doses of the vaccine is essential. Although there is likely some individual variability, immunity may not be optimal until several days after the second dose. The phase 3 clinical trials used a period of at least one-to-two weeks after the second dose as a marker of immunity during which they were able to demonstrate the efficacy of the vaccines in protecting against COVID-19 infection.”
Dr. David Banach is one of the lead experts on COVID-19 in America. He is available to speak with media regarding the vaccination and what the future holds with regards to COVID-19. To book an interview – simply click on his icon and arrange a time now.
David Banach Associate Professor of Medicine Head of Infection Prevention Hospital Epidemiologist
Dr. David Banach is an expert in the field of infectious diseases and epidemiology.