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Amidst the growing surge of Covid-19 infections, variant mutations and toll on healthcare infrastructure, the availability of another vaccine option comes as a welcome respite.
Manufactured by the United States of America-based ModernaTX Inc, this RNA (mRNA) vaccine is the fourth vaccine available in India, after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted import permission to Cipla for restricted emergency use in India, as a matter of public interest. It is slated to be available for use in the coming week. This vaccine is also approved by the European Medicine Agency, making it part of the list of vaccines that will enable its beneficiaries to get the Covid-19 vaccination passport for travelling to Europe.
This vaccine releases messenger RNA (mRNA), which is required by the blood cells to make proteins. This triggers the cell’s molecules to develop spike proteins, helping generate immunity against the virus. The ideal storage temperature for this vaccine for up to seven months is -25 to -15 degrees and an unopened vial can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees in a normal cold chain facility for up to 30 days.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) approved this vaccine for emergency use, after assessing its quality, safety and efficacy. When it comes to dosage, WHO’s SAGE recommends 2 doses (100 µg, 0.5 ml each), within a gap of 28 days from each other. SAGE makes its recommendations based on the recommended age groups, intervals between shots, and advice for specific groups such as pregnant and lactating women.
As per WHO, the Moderna vaccine shows the efficacy of approximately 94.1% in protecting against Covid-19. The antibodies start to develop starting within 14 days of taking the 1st dose.
This vaccine is effective against the variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the Alpha (B.1.1.7) and the beta variant (501Y.V2). The manufacturer has claimed that the vaccine produces antibodies against the delta variant as well. The vaccine “produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested,” the company said in an official statement.
People with a medical history of allergic reactions after taking the first dose should avoid taking the second jab. Also, while it’s safe for old people to take this vaccine, it’s recommended for extremely frail and old individuals with an anticipated life expectancy of fewer than 3 months to avoid taking this vaccine. Currently, as per advisories issued and studies conducted, the vaccine should not be used by persons younger than 18 years of age.
While no major side effects have been reported from taking this vaccine,4 people may experience a slight fever, soreness in the arm, and body chills. Some people may also feel nauseous and fatigue after taking the dose.
Considering our case tally, the number of vaccinated people (both doses) and population size, the availability of this vaccine is great news for Indians. A lot more people can now avail protection against this lethal virus.
So, mask up, follow social distancing norms and book your vaccination slot, as and when it’s available!