Updates on COVID-19 – Part 12

By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay


The phase three trials for the SINGLE-DOSE Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that enrolled 45,000 people from 8 countries showed a lot of promise.

According to scientists from the US Food and Drug Administration, “early data is showing it to be safe and effective, making it one step closer to authorization.” This is a very optimistic development because if finally authorized and used, it will hasten or accelerate HERD IMMUNITY since with only one shot, more people are rapidly vaccinated, then immunity to COVID-19. Of course, J & J vaccines will reach us maybe by July or August yet because J & J had just announced only 20 million doses may be AVAILABLE by END March and another 100 million doses by the end of June, depending on several factors that affect its production rate. Even with COVAX intervention, still it will be the US and other western countries who will have the “first shot” on the availability of the J & J vaccine.

This one-shot dose vaccine has reportedly a high level of protection, compared to both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s two-dose regimen. If true, this would greatly suit people who have difficulty taking off from work to take a shot because it will be done only once. Of course, total protection (immunity) is faster compared to other two-dose brands which are taken two to four weeks apart in order to achieve immunity. The trials on 45,000 people showed milder side effects such as injection site pains, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. The trial phase also reported that Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine has an overall efficacy rate of 66% in preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease caused by the virus 28 days after a person is vaccinated. It also said the number jumped to 72% in the US specifically and to 85% in preventing severe disease related to hospitalization and death. Protection from infection of COVID-19 begins as early as 14 days after the shot with full protection measured 28 days after inoculation. Even better, this vaccine is linked to a 74% lower likelihood of asymptomatic transmission to others at 71 days when compared to a placebo during the trial. But foremost of all, the J&J COVID-19 vaccine is cheaper and easier to produce.

Another notable advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is refrigeration storage for up to three months. This significantly creates easier handling and administration, especially in rural areas in the Philippines. Length of protection from the virus at this time is not yet certain. Just like both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, scientists are still working to determine if immunity is long-lasting or if it may require an annual shot like the flu vaccine. If more variant of covid-19 emerges over time, more likely a yearly shot would be needed. SO EVEN IF WE ARE VACCINATED, WE CANNOT THROW OUT OF THE WINDOW THE BASICS PRECAUTIONS.

As mandated by our Health officials ALL those who have been vaccinated or got sick and recovered from COVID-19 STILL NEED TO WEAR FACE MASK AND PRACTISE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND HYGIENE. The most important reason to still act safely is the government telling us to do so. Civil disobedience shouldn’t toy or tinker with safety measures imposed by the government from safety belts while driving, to helmets in motorcycle driving and even no-smoking areas to no drunk driving.

Having developed immunity from COVID-19 thru vaccination protects us almost 100% from death and greatly from serious covid 19 complications. BUT NOT TOTALLY. And we can’t know if we or the person we talk to will be an exception. But, much more importantly when we have become immune, we might still pick up this virus and give it to someone else. And if we do, we could be a link in a deadly chain that would kill an elderly person, someone with a known or previously unknown underlying illness, or a pregnant mother and her fetus. We don’t want to play any part in this! Also, those who may suppose to have covid immunity need to pay attention to possible signs of a light corona infection. Some 94% of cured of COVID-19 after 3 months still have health complaints. And 50% of light corona patients have long corona symptoms up to half a year after their infection was over. Is that “corona light”?

When, despite assumed immunity, we get even a slight suspicion we may be infected, we should play it safe and self-isolate. An unexpected a little tiredness, loss of smell, feeling cold/hot? Don’t risk infecting others. Anti-bodies don’t prove immunity. They fade quickly after a corona vaccination or infection.  But the more potent cellular immunity does not. Even when there is herd immunity, the virus could still go around from person to person. It’s ok to take off our mask in one-on-one meetings, but not in a setting where a super spreader (of which none can identify, it could even be us!) could infect hundreds. A HERD IMMUNITY STRATEGY FAILS WHEN IT KILLS MOST OF THE SHEPHERDS. We need to continue wearing masks and social distancing, ventilate, and not linger too long an indoor meetings. When we talk or run, the essence of the mask is covering our mouth. But when we are quiet, the essence is covering our noses.

As we normalize and tourists returns, with billions not yet vaccinated for years to come, we have yet another reason not to let down our guard or masks. The day will come that this virus will be tamed or  perhaps even terminated, BUT THAT DAY HAS NOT YET COME. And the next pandemic maybe is already in the making. As long as we want to MASS travel, MASS gather and city dwell, we’d better continue to protect ourselves and each other. People who endanger the population at large should be fined and repeat offenders should be jailed. Sad to say, the good, old normal ways of life may never return again!