Q&A

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The COVID-19 vaccines were widely tested by expert researchers and were found to be safe for use. Over 1.84 billion people worldwide have already been safely fully vaccinated. That is over 1 840 000 000 people and nearly 1 in every 4 people on earth.

(Published 25 August 2021)

Are the COVID-19 vaccines experimental?

The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). This is our country’s own highly qualitative regulatory product body. SAHPRA has the best scientists reviewing all products. For years we have trusted them to review all other products that enter our country – why all of the sudden not the Covid-19 vaccines?

(Published on 26 August 2021).

Are there alternative medicines available that cure COVID-19?

There are no specific ARVs approved for use for Covid-19 yet. All treatment, even for the sickest person on a ventilator, is only supportive. Examples are steroids and Oxygen. There is NO proven medication to cure Covid-19.

(Published 25 August 2021).

Can a COVID-19 test detect a new variant?

Yes. All COVID-19 tests can detect all variants, but they will not tell you which variant you have. Scientists monitor all variants but may classify certain ones as variants of interest, concern, or high consequence based on how easily they spread, how severe their symptoms are, and how they are treated. (Published 27 August 2021; source: cdc.gov)

How many variants are there and where do they originate from?

There are currently four (4) major variants.

  1. Alpha (first identified in the United Kingdom)
  2. Beta (first identified in South Africa)
  3. Gamma (First identified in Japan and Brazil)
  4. Delta (First identified in India)

(Published on 27 August 2021; Source: www.cdc.gov)

I heard people get anaphylaxis after getting the jab?

A small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction (called “anaphylaxis”) after vaccination, but this is rare. Anaphylaxis can occur after any vaccination. If this occurs, vaccination providers have medicines available to effectively and immediately treat the reaction.

After you get a COVID-19 vaccine, you will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so you can be observed in case you have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.

(Published on 27 August 2021; Source; www.cdc.gov)

Was the COVID-19 vaccines developed too fast?

Many groups of scientists from around the world worked on the vaccines at the same time and already had experience with similar vaccines that were in development in the 1990s. Think if it like a new car or cellphone – you don’t need to re-invent it to make a newer model.

(Published 25 August 2021).

What should I expect after vaccination?

Side effects after a Covid-19 vaccination is normal. The most common are headaches, feeling tired, mild flu symptoms and pain at the place where a person got the jab. However, do not worry, because this means that the vaccine is working. Most side effects are mild and disappear after two (2) or three (3) days.

(Published on 25 August 2021).

What type of antibodies do the vaccine create?

The vaccines create Monoclonal antibodies. These are laboratory-produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm. Monoclonal antibodies may also neutralize a virus.

(Published on 27 August 2021; source: www.fda.gov).

What are the top side-effects of taking COVID-19 vaccines?

Results from vaccine safety monitoring efforts are reassuring. Some people have no side effects. Others have reported common side effects after COVID-19 vaccination, like

  • swelling, redness, and pain at injection site
  • fever
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • nausea

(Published on 27 August 2021; source: www.fda.gov).

Will the COVID-19 vaccines change my DNA?

No, the Covid-19 vaccines to not affect your genetics of DNA. It is just impossible. The vaccines trigger your immune system to make antibodies that aid infighting COVID-19. The vaccine does not remain in your body, but gets broken down and discarded by your body.

(Published 25 August 2021).

What is a variant?

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Multiple variants of COVID-19 have emerged in the United States. At this point, the original variant that caused the initial COVID-19 cases in January 2020 is no longer circulating as newer variants have increased.

If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.

As the virus spreads, it has new opportunities to change and may become more difficult to stop. These changes can be monitored by comparing differences in physical traits (such as resistance to treatment) or changes in genetic code (mutations) from one variant to another.

(Published on 27 August 2021; Source: www.cdc.gov)

Will I be able to contract the Delta variant after I got jabbed?

Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. Some breakthrough infections are expected, but remain rare. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others. Learn more here. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.

(Published on 27 August 2021; Source: www.cdc.gov)

Current knowledge about Omicron

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.

Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.

Severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.  Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.  There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.  Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.  All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.

(Published on 26 November 2021; Source: https://www.who.int/news/item/28-11-2021-update-on-omicron)