Photo: prostooleh, Freepik
Written by Dr Gerald Thang
I shared these analogies with my patients in March 2021 before any publications on that were made.
My Analogies on Vaccinations
A vaccine is like an umbrella that you bring into the rain. COVID-19 is just like the rain. Similarly, the umbrella doesn't make the rain stop, the vaccine doesn't stop the virus. But if you choose not to shield yourself with an umbrella, you may surely get wet.
As for those who are terrified of dying from potential complications of the vaccines, it's likened to worrying about the wind ripping off the umbrella’s metal shaft and smashing it into your face. Nobody will deny these risks exist because they're real. But should it stop you from using umbrellas?
Why Test for Antibodies?
mRNA vaccines vs non mRNA vaccines are deeply argued for and counter-argued ad nauseam.
One thing is certain: after billions of doses of mRNA were given and all sorts of side effect profiles reported throughout the world by the international medical community, no one could say that mRNA vaccines are untested on the ground.
But we do know that there is a percentage of non-responders to the vaccines. And there is no way to predict if you have developed antibodies to fight against the virus/bacteria unless you do a serology test after a certain amount of time post completion of vaccination.
Our clinic is aware of this possibility, and we seek to assist patients with serology testing for COVID-19 and hepatitis B.
Do yourself a favour. Test your umbrella before bringing it into the rain. If not, you may get wet.
What's the difference between bacteria and virus vaccines?
There are many various sorts of vaccines besides what is listed in mainstream media.
The 2 broad categories are divided into bacterial vaccines and viral vaccines.
Some of the members of the two groups of vaccines may share the same mechanism of introducing the vaccine to the body.
Types of bacterial vaccines include:
- subunit vaccines
- inactivated killed whole cell vaccines
- live attenuated vaccines
Toxoid vaccines: These involve bacteria that produces a toxin that is harmful to our body resulting in sickness. As such, toxoids are chemically inactivated toxins from bacteria like Clostridium tetani or Corynebacterium diphtheria. This enables the body to identify the toxoids and produce immunity against the actual toxins when the bacteria invade our body. Hence, we are protected from the toxins.
Subunit vaccines: These consist only of a single antigen or protein particle of the bacteria cell. The risk of allergic reaction and infection is lower as no actual bacteria or toxoid is given to the body. Example of this type of vaccine are vaccines for Salmonella Typhi, Haemophilus Type B, Pneumococcus. A subtype of this vaccine includes the conjugated vaccines which are bacteria protein molecule attached to a toxoid eg vaccines for meningitis.
Inactivated killed whole cell vaccines: These contain killed bacterial cells by usage of chemical/heat/radiation treatment of the disease bacteria, e.g. cholera vaccine.
Live vaccines: These are attenuated, living bacteria. Attenuation, to put it simply, is to remove the capability to replicate or cause the same disease as the actual bacteria.
Types of viral vaccines include:
- Whole virus
- Protein subunit
- Nuclei acid
- Viral vector
Whole virus and protein subunit viral vaccines: They are similar to their bacterial vaccine counterparts.
Nuclei acid vaccines: These use genetic material – either RNA/mRNA or DNA – to provide cells with the instructions to make the antigen. In the case of COVID-19, this is usually the viral spike protein. The 'm' in mRNA means messenger. This means that the copy of RNA in the vaccine is not the actual virus RNA but the mirror image of the RNA nucleic acid. Our body then uses this mRNA to reproduce the COVID viral spike protein in larger amounts so that our immune defence can recognise it and produce a larger response to COVID.
Viral Vector vaccines: Essentially, these use a harmless virus to deliver genetic instructions to our cells to produce the targeted virus protein particles called antigens to trigger our immune system to mount a defence against the targeted virus such as Ebola.