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Coronavirus: Understanding the vaccines and how they work

Coronavirus – we all hate that name. It’s wreaked havoc on our freedom, our health and our livelihood. Cases are rising every day and graveyards across the country are filled with burning pyres.

According to a New York Times report, the actual death toll may be several times higher than the figures shown by the government. At such a critical moment, vaccines are our only hope. So we’ve decided to look at how coronavirus attacks our body, how vaccines work and why they are all safe.

How does coronavirus attack our body?

Every coronavirus has two components that cause the maximum damage – one is the spike proteins which are conical protrusions on the outer surface and the second is the RNA or the genetic material present inside the virus. The spike proteins attach to our lung’s receptors and enter into our system. Once there, they ask the nucleus about how they can multiply and are redirected towards ribosome. The genetic material (which is an RNA) starts multiplying with the help of ribosome and that alerts the immune system.

To counter the virus, the immune system starts fighting but the viruses keep multiplying. So it asks the nucleus for a way to stop the virus. The nucleus tells it to protect the lung receptors using antibodies and stop new viruses from entering. People who can’t produce enough antibodies succumb to the disease while people with strong immune systems are able to recover.

How do vaccines work?

All vaccines work by helping the body produce antibodies that can fight the virus. Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech are some organizations which have been able to develop an effective vaccine. In India, Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are the two vaccines that have been administered. Let’s take a look at how they work.

Covishield is made using a weakened version of an adenovirus found in chimpanzees. It also contains the genetic material of the coronavirus’ spike protein. Once it enters our system, it is able to direct the immune system to produce antibodies to fight coronavirus. So when the actual coronavirus enters, the immune system is already primed to fight it.

On the other hand, Covaxin is made using a dead coronavirus. When it enters the system, our immune system is able to recognize it and that helps in producing the requisite antibodies. Since it’s a dead virus, it is not able to cause any infection. According to Bharat Biotech, this vaccine has been made using Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell derived platform technology.

Should you take them?

Yes, we encourage you to take the vaccine and try to dissipate any rumours about their side-effects. A vaccine is our best chance against the pandemic and it’s sad to see the attention given to the anti-vaccination brigade. A few minor side-effects may happen, but they’re not as bad as getting infected with coronavirus.

At Urruda, we pray for the souls of those who departed this world in recent days. We also hope that the central government steps up and is able to meet the medical requirements of the people.

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