Chinese vaccine in Azerbaijan: the questions to which there are answers
Vaccination against COVID-19 coronavirus has begun in Azerbaijan. Justa few days earlier, it was announced that the population would be vaccinatedwith the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac from Sinovac.
To get vaccinated or not? Is it safe? Why was this particularvaccine chosen? How effective is it? We will try to answer at least some ofthe questions.
How effective is the Chinese vaccine?
The manufacturer originally stated that CoronaVac was around 92%efficient. And Azerbaijani officials insist on this very indicator.
“Azerbaijan has acquired the safest and most effective vaccine,” saidpresidential aide Shahmar Movsumov.
It should be borne in mind that in a pandemic, it is impossible todemand accurate data on long-term effectiveness from pharmaceuticalcompanies, because both development and testing are carried out in avery short time.
But since CoronaVac has already begun to take root in other countries, there is some information about the effectiveness – and it does not inspire optimism.
First you need to understand how vaccines are tested.
To confirm the efficacy or safety of any vaccine for any disease, itis customary to conduct three stages of clinical trials. In the firststage, only a relatively small group of young and healthy volunteersare injected with the vaccine. In the case of CoronaVac, this was agroup of 144 people.
If the experiment is successful, then they move on to the second stage- more volunteers are vaccinated, while some of them receive not avaccine, but a “dummy”, a placebo is a control group, with which theresults of the vaccinated are compared. At this stage, CoronaVac wastested on 600 volunteers.
Finally, even more volunteers are taking part in the third phase ofthe study, among whom there are also people at risk for whom thevaccine may be most dangerous.
Ideally, mass vaccination can only begin after the third stage. But inemergency situations – as now – permission to use the vaccine is givenafter the second stage, and the third stage, in fact, is combined withthe start of vaccination. This is what is happening all over the worldnow.
As for CoronaVac, only the first and second stages of testing areknown in China itself. It was they who showed 92% efficiency.
The intermediate results of the third stage of research in Turkeyshowed 91.25% efficiency, in Indonesia – 65.3%, and in Brazil – first78%, but then even 50.4% – writes the BBC.
That is, the numbers are very different.
And if we focus on the Brazilian indicator, it turns out that out of100 vaccinated only 50 develop immunity against the virus.
But even experts do not dare to draw final conclusions.
Azerbaijan has purchased 4 million doses of CoronaVac, which will beenough for 2 million people (since each one needs to inject twodoses), APA reports.
At the same time, the official population of the country is about 10million people.
Vaccination will be voluntary, and those who refuse will not be“punished” in any way.
What is CoronaVac vaccine?
The CoronaVac vaccine is produced in a traditional way. Roughlyspeaking, the body is artificially infected with a fragment of aweakened, inactive virus in order to force the immune system to “turnon” and, most importantly, to remember the virus. The virus is grownin a laboratory and chemically weakened.
For comparison, the British vaccine Oxford-AstraZeneca and the RussianSputnik are produced using a different technology – they do notcontain the entire virus, but only a fragment of its DNA combined withanother virus that is not dangerous for humans.
The American Moderna and the American-German Pfizer-BioNTech areproduced according to the third, most modern technology.
They containan artificially synthesized “genetic code” of the virus envelope – thevery “thorns” with which the coronavirus “clings” to healthy cells.
Bythemselves, the “thorns” are harmless, and they seem to “multiply” in thebody, forcing it to produce antibodies, which will subsequentlyquickly neutralize the coronavirus if it enters the body.
It is believed that this innovative approach is one of the reasonsthat Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are currently the most effective.
At the same time, the advantage of CoronaVac is that it can betransported and stored in standard refrigerators (just likeOxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik).
While more “advanced” vaccines require very low temperatures andadequate storage and transport equipment that not every country canafford. Therefore, CoronaVac is currently considered the optimalvaccine for developing countries (and hence for Azerbaijan).
In addition to the already mentioned Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil,CoronaVac has been purchased or are going to be purchased bySingapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ukraine and Chile.
Who will be vaccinated and how will it happen?
The residents of Azerbaijan will be vaccinated in approximately thefollowing sequence:
– medical workers;
– elderly people over 65;
– people with chronic respiratory diseases, diabetics, people withobesity and in need of hemodialysis;
– people over 50 years old with at least one chronic disease;
– teachers, social workers and workers of other spheres, implyingdirect contact with the population;
Each will receive two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart.
Children and adolescents under 18 years old, as well as pregnant andlactating women will not be vaccinated.
Vaccinations are free and carried out in public hospitals and clinics.
Those interested can register through a special electronic system.Are there any scary side effects?
On this issue, the scientific community is unanimous – a strain of anattenuated virus cannot be more dangerous than the virus itself.
Opponents of vaccinations often cite cases when a person fell illafter vaccination as an argument, forgetting that “after” does notmean “because of” at all.
According to a representative of the manufacturing company CoronaVac,in September, no more than 5% of volunteers who received thevaccination experienced minor discomfort after it.
At the same time, experts warn that mild malaise after any vaccinationis normal. In case of allergic reactions after vaccination, you needto wait for some time in the hospital, because there doctors canimmediately help.
Can I travel if I get vaccinated?
Some people are interested not so much in the effectiveness ofvaccination as in whether it will help return to normal life. Inparticular, whether the borders will open.
There have been talks for a long time that special vaccinationpassports will be introduced. Many countries of the European Unionare preparing such passports for their citizens.
Although this idea has manyopponents, who consider it discriminatory, it will make it impossiblefor those who cannot get vaccinated to travel. It is also not yetknown when and in what form these passports will be introduced.
As for the citizens of Azerbaijan, according to the CBC TV channel, itwill be possible to get a certificate of vaccination.
“I’d better wait a while.” Who will get vaccinated?
The news of vaccination was treated with caution and prejudice in thecommunity. Here are some comments from social media:
“I fear not so much the vaccine itself, but the incompetence of thosewho are responsible for vaccination in Azerbaijan.”
“They say that this vaccination can have very serious consequences.No really. I do not want it”.
“I am a doctor myself, and of course I believe in vaccination as such.But still, given my age and the fact that this vaccine is still quitenew, I am a little afraid. So I’ll wait a bit before going to getvaccinated.”
“I’m not afraid of vaccination, but I also doubt its effectiveness, tobe honest. But you have to do something so that this whole pandemicsaga finally ends. So when it’s my turn, I’ll get the vaccine.”
“First, let the deputies inject it and other officials. And we’ll seewhat happens to them, then we’ll decide.”
There are several trends that explain the mistrust of the residents ofAzerbaijan to the vaccine.
For example, conspiracy theories about chipping are the same as in the rest of the world. There is also an anti-vaccination movement that existed without the coronavirus.
There is also a tendency to distrust the authorities in principle, which hasarisen as a response to the authorities’ tendency to always actprimarily in their own interests. Often all this is superimposed onthe low level of education and gives rise to the belief that “there isno virus”.