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Show full transcript for Coronavirus Vaccines video
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The future does not look as bleak as a result of the coronavirus vaccines. There are initially three different vaccines that we will look in detail at. These vaccines comprise of Pfizer, Oxford AstraZeneca and Moderna. Pfizer and Moderna work in a similar way, whereas Oxford AstraZeneca’s way of working is slightly different. Other vaccines are in development and approval stages and will be released but in this video we will concentrate on the first three.

All human cells, with one of two exceptions, contain DNA, which is essentially the coding blocks for the cell to function. Viruses, including coronavirus, contain a variant of this called RNA. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain a small sample of a special type of coronavirus RNA called mRNA, or messenger RNA. When injected into cells, it cannot function as a virus which causes disease, however our own body’s immune system detects it as foreign.

On the other hand, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine contains the external spike protein which gives coronavirus its renowned appearance. These spike proteins are added onto a completely harmless virus called an adenovirus. In a similar way to the other vaccines, when the immune system detects this, it becomes activated as it detects it as foreign.

At this point, with any of the vaccines, the immune system goes into overdrive and lots and lots of defensive cells are generated. Some of these cells are what are called Memory cells. These are created when many different infections enter the body, each specific to the present infection, ready to fight it should the body come into contact with it again. These memory cells stay in our circulation, normally, for the rest of your life, giving you lifelong protection. When we come into contact with the virus again, the memory cells become activated, causing them to activate the required defensive cells much more quickly than the first time around. Unfortunately, one dose of the vaccine is not enough to get to this stage, therefore two doses are needed to really bolster up the immune systems defences.

Now, having the vaccine injected will do what it’s supposed to, as long as it has been stored at the correct temperature and away from sunlight. Sunlight can alter the vaccine and render it useless, as can leaving it at a temperature outside of recommendation. Each Pfizer vaccine is transported in a medical-grade freezer at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius. It is then moved into a fridge where it can be stored at 2-8 degrees C for up to 5 days, and once taken out of the fridge, it has 2 hours to be diluted and administered, otherwise it risks losing its function.

The AstraZeneca can be stored at 2-8 degrees C in unopened vials for up to 6 months, however the sooner it is used, the better. However, once the vial is opened for extraction, it can be stored from 2-25 degrees C and used within 6 hours. The Moderna vaccine arrives frozen between -25 and -15 degrees C, and then should be stored in a 2-8 degree Celsius fridge. The vaccines then have a 30 day shelf life unless punctured. All thawed vaccines cannot be re-frozen, as this can severely damage it.

Vaccines should be administered intramuscularly, most commonly into the deltoid muscle of the arm. If there is not enough muscle mass for this, then the middle third of the outer thigh can be used.