Many people refuse to be immunized against COVID-19 because they fear the long-term consequences of vaccines. But are there any such side effects at all?What could be the long-term consequences of coronavirus vaccines?
Here is what Deutsche Welle’s fact-finding shows.
What could be the long-term consequences of coronavirus vaccines?
People around the world are asking themselves this question when reading information about the bird flu vaccine, which some claim has caused such side effects. But how justified are the fears? Here is what the facts say.
Immune reactions, side effects and long-term consequences
Immune reactions usually occur immediately after vaccination and may persist for several days. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, this may be pain around the injection site, headache or fever. These reactions of the body indicate that the immune system is resisting.
Side effects are a kind of stronger immune response. They are “an adverse reaction of the body to the vaccine, which appears in addition to normal immune reactions,” explains Prof. Christiane Falk, president of the German Society of Immunology.
These reactions are more severe than normal immune reactions and can ultimately lead to damage that affects the body in the long run. Coronavirus vaccines have so far identified two very rare reactions of this type – thrombosis and myocarditis.
The lasting effects cannot be considered in isolation from the side effects. These are effects that can only be linked to immunization over time.
One example: if a lasting effect is found in one in 1 million people, the link to vaccination can only be made when many millions of people are already immunized.
The advantage of COVID-19 vaccines is that more than 6.8 billion doses have been administered worldwide so far. This means that rare side effects can be identified quickly.
“Because many people are already immunized, and many of them were given months ago, we may now be aware of the possible side effects,” said immunologist Prof. Reinhold Forster of the Paul Ehrlich Institute.
What is known about thrombosis caused by AstraZeneca?
This is a rare side effect, which was found only after the widespread use of the drug AstraZeneca, explains Forster. Among the cases there are severe – clots in different or unusual places, such as the brain.
According to the Australian Health Authority, thrombosis occurs in the worst case in 4 to 6 people out of 1 million vaccinated with AstraZeneca. The German Center for Health Education found that these side effects occur mainly in people under 60 years of age. Therefore, in Germany, the use of this preparation is not recommended for people under 60 years.
How long does it take for the preparation to degrade?
There are two types of vaccines approved in the EU: mRNAs from BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna and vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. “For both species, it only takes a few days or weeks for the vaccine to be completely broken down,” explains immunologist Christiane Falk.
BioNTech / Pfizer also says that the vaccine is completely degradable and therefore cannot cause side effects. “There are no indications that later reactions may occur,” Prof. Reinhold Forster told Deutsche Welle.
Are there any late side effects of other vaccines?
When vaccinated against swine flu with Pandemrix, one of the rare side effects only appears after years: narcolepsy, a type of sleeping sickness.
Initially, a relatively small number of people were vaccinated, so the side effects of vaccines are only months later, after more immunizations.
According to the immunologist Forster, rare side effects can be detected only with a higher number of immunized.
What are the known side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
The side effects known so far, which are extremely rare so far, are, for example, myocarditis and pericarditis. But in both cases, the unequivocal link to the vaccine has not yet been proven. Other types of side effects include thrombosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and thrombocytopenia or immune thrombocytopenia.
In general, leading immunologists in Germany rule out the possibility of side effects from coronavirus vaccines years later, as the body responds directly after immunization or within the next few weeks at the latest. In addition, the vaccine degrades relatively quickly in the body and therefore cannot cause later reactions.
Source: Deutsche Welle