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Freiburg Experts Answer Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

[30.06.2021]

Prof. Dr. Rober Thimme and Prof. Dr. Siegbert Richard Rieg – experts from the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Endocrinology and Infectious Diseases – spoke with us about Covid-19 Vaccination

Do the vaccinations from the above mentioned manufacturers also protect against virus variants?

The vaccines do not protect against infection with the virus variants to the same extent, but, according to current status, provide good protection against serious, complicated diseases caused by the virus variants.

How quickly can the vaccines be adapted to the new variants?

For the mRNA vaccines, the design of vaccines that take new virus variants into account is possible very quickly. Although the adapted vaccines do not have to go through the entire approval process again, tests for tolerability and protective effect are required. Corresponding studies are in preparation or currently ongoing.

Are new vaccines coming on the market?

Yes, a number of vaccines are in the advanced stages of development.

Do all vaccinations, regardless of the manufacturer, have to be refreshed?

Except for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, of which a single vaccination is initially sufficient, two vaccinations must be carried out as part of the primary vaccination course. It can be assumed that all vaccines will have to be refreshed again (and possibly repeatedly, e.g. annually) and that these refreshments will then be carried out with the vaccines adapted to the virus variants.

How long does the vaccination last?

Long-term data on this are lacking, presumably the first booster vaccinations (also due to the virus variants) will be discussed after 9-12 months, provided that enough vaccine is available.

Can a vaccinated person still transmit the disease?

There is also a lack of conclusive data on this, but it can be assumed that the transfer probability is at least much lower.

Why should children be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they are rarely ill?

The risk of a serious COVID illness is very low for children, the risk of long COVID (persistent symptoms after COVID illness) is probably also low. This has to be weighed against the risk of vaccination side effects or complications. Overall, it is currently assumed that the benefit for others is predominant, so there is mainly benefit for the environment and less for the child that is to be vaccinated. The vaccination commission responsible in Germany (STIKO) only makes a general vaccination recommendation for children aged 12-17 if they have pre-existing / concomitant diseases, as they may be more severely ill with COVID. The second group includes children who have high-risk patients in their immediate family who cannot be vaccinated or cannot develop a vaccination response. In principle, however, vaccination is possible for children / adolescents between 12-17 years of age with the vaccines approved for this age group (currently Comirnaty from BioNTech / Pfizer), after appropriate information and with individual request and risk acceptance.

When will the pandemic be contained?

If a vaccination quota of 60-70% required for herd immunity is reached, there will probably no longer be large waves of disease. However, continuous disease activity (similar to the influenza recurring in the winter months) can be assumed.

Comparative overview of some vaccines

 

Biontech / Pfizer (Cormirnaty)

Vaccine type: MRNA

Antigen: full-length spike (S) protein with proline substitutions

Recommended vaccination interval: Two doses 21 days apart

Efficacy against severe disease: 88.9 percent after the first dose

Overall effectiveness: 52 percent after the first dose; 94.6 percent after seven days after the second dose

 

AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)

Vaccine type: vector

Antigen: Recombinant replication-incompetent chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding a full-length spike (S) protein with proline substitutions

Recommended vaccination interval: two doses four to twelve weeks apart

Efficacy against severe disease: 100 percent 21 days after the first dose

General effectiveness: 64.1 percent after the first dose; 70.4 percent 14 days after the second dose

 

Johnson & Jonson (COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen)

Vaccine type: MRNA

Antigen: recombinant replication-incompetent human adenovirus vector serotype 26 encoding a full-length spike (S) protein with proline substitutions

Recommended vaccination interval: one dose

Efficacy against severe disease: 85 percent after 28 days, 100 percent after 49 days

General effectiveness: 72 percent in the USA; 66 percent in Latin America; 57 percent in South Africa (after 28 days)

 

Moderna (COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna)

Vaccine type: vector

Antigen: full-length spike (S) protein with proline substitutions

Recommended vaccination interval two doses 28 days apart

Efficacy against severe disease: 100 percent 14 days after the second dose

General effectiveness: 92.1 percent 14 days after the first dose, 94.1 percent 14 days after the second dose

 

Gamaleya (Sputnik V)

Vaccine type: vector

Antigen: two recombinant replication-incompetent human adenovirus vectors of serotypes 5 and 26, which encode a full-length spike (S) protein with proline substitutions

Recommended vaccination interval: two doses 21 days apart

Efficacy against severe disease: 100 percent 21 days after the first dose

Overall effectiveness: 87.6 percent 14 days after the first dose; 91.1 percent seven days after the second dose

 

Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV)

Vaccine Type: Whole Virus Vaccine

Antigen: inactivated HB02 strain of SARS-CoV-2, which was produced in Vero cells

Recommended vaccination interval: two doses 21 days apart

Efficacy against severe disease: unknown

General effectiveness: Phase III data not yet published; according to unapproved reports, 79 percent and 86 percent

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