COVID-19 update and press conference- February 7, 2021. (PMO)

With Barbados expected to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines later this week, members of the public are being assured that they have been proven to reduce severe illness, death and hospitalisation.

This assurance comes from Clinical Pharmacologist at the University of the West Indies, and Chairman of the Barbados Drug Formulary Committee, Dr. Kenneth Connell.

He further stated that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, of which Barbados is expected to receive 100,000 doses, has also shown early evidence that it might also reduce transmission of the virus.

His comments came during a COVID-19 press conference tonight on the topic: The COVID-19 Vaccine.

Making reference to questions being asked by the public, Dr. Connell said there was no evidence to suggest that the vaccine prevented a person from getting infected with COVID-19, or from transmitting it to others.

“All the vaccine is therefore doing is preventing you from getting a serious illness….  If you are going to get an infection, you’d rather get the infection but not get seriously ill from it….

According to Clinical Pharmacologist at the University of the West Indies, and Chairman of the Barbados Drug Formulary Committee, Dr. Kenneth Connell, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has shown early evidence that it might also reduce transmission of the virus.

“Most of the vaccines that we have currently available to us do not prevent you from getting the actual illness; it just prevents you from getting very sick from the illness.

“So, the AstraZeneca vaccine is an opportunity for a population that is vaccinated, to reduce the likelihood that they will become very ill or die from the vaccine, which is the most important thing right now…, and it may also decrease the transmission,” he said.

Dr. Connell explained that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, like all vaccines, gave the body and the immune system the opportunity to learn a part of the virus, and allowed the immune system to destroy it.

“When this occurs in an efficient way, people are said to have immunity, and one marker of immunity is called the antibody response,” the Clinical Pharmacologist pointed out.

He also sought to quell suggestions that the COVID-19 vaccines were rushed, and therefore not likely to be effective.

Dr. Connell explained that biologists, clinical pharmacologists, and other scientists identified what were likely to be pandemics and sought to ensure that technology was in place to manage the likelihood of such.

He added that the new platforms used sophisticated technology, such as “viral vector and viral vehicles”, which were around for more than a decade to determine what new virus the technology would be used to counteract.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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