Why Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is hitting the headlines again

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 Why Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is hitting the headlines again
Image source: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on the production line. © Mikemareen | Megapixl.com

The United States Monday gave full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which had earlier been given emergency use authorisation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The full authorisation of the Pfizer’s shot for people aged 16 years and older have undergone the same rigorous testing and regulatory review as dozens of other long-established vaccines have gone through.

The move is being seen as a milestone that could boost public confidence in the shots and spur more companies, universities and local governments to make the vaccination mandatory.

Post full authorisation, the vaccine will now be marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of the COVID-19 disease in individuals aged 16 years and older. However, the vaccine will also continue to be available under the emergency use authorisation (EUA), also for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

What is Pfizer Vaccine?

The vaccine – named BNT162b2 – is jointly developed by Pfizer, Inc., and BioNTech. The intra-veinous injection, the vaccine is supposed to be injected in the muscle of upper arm – like many other rival jabs. While some immunocompromised people are required to take three jabs of the vaccine, the rest can take just two jabs – with a gap of 21 days. The vaccine is recommended for people aged 12 years and older.

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine?

According to the Centre for Disease Control, based on the evidences from clinical trials in people aged 16 years and older, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective in combating the attack of COVID-19. However, this is in the clinical set-up. In real life conditions, the effectiveness is likely to come down to 90%. “The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was also highly effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in adolescents aged 12–15 years, and the immune response in people aged 12–15 years was at least as strong as the immune response in people aged 16–25 years,” the US Centre for Disease Control says.

Are there any side effects of the vaccine?

Yes, there are. These side effects happen within a day or two of getting a jab and are perceived as normal signs, implying that the receiver’s body is building protection against the virus. All these side effects are of temporary nature and should go away within a few days. In the arm where you get the shot, you may feel pain, redness and swelling. In the rest of the body, you may feel tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever or nausea. In May 2021, experts commissioned by the Norwegian government alleged that the Pfizer vaccine was the likely cause for 10 deaths of frail elderly patients in Norwegian nursing homes.

So, is there any category of people who shouldn’t take this jab?

If you have had a slighted allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction to any one of the ingredients in mRNA COVID-19 vaccine – like polyethylene glycol – you should not get either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer. In case you see any such reaction after the first dose, don’t go for the second one.


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