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How Do Vaccines Work? Know All About Their Safety And Approach From WHO Expert

COVID-19 vaccine: Read here to know the different approaches that are being take to develop vaccines and how the work in protecting our bodies from coronavirus.

How Do Vaccines Work? Know All About Their Safety And Approach From WHO Expert

COVID-19 vaccine works towards developing an immune response to coronavirus


  1. COVID-19 vaccine fights theoutside part of the virus, the spike protein
  2. They can lower the chances of catching the infection
  3. The vaccine provides antibodies to the system

The whole world is now gearing up to procure a suitable and effective vaccine for COVID-19. A vaccine that can prevent or protect one from coronavirus infection is something that is expected to curb the pandemic. Talking about how do vaccines work to protect us and what are the different approaches that we are hearing about vaccines, is Dr Katherine O'Brien, Director of Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, World Health Organization (WHO). In WHO's IGTV, Dr Brien explains how vaccines work to protect us.

COVID-19: How do vaccines work?

"Vaccines are a part of the germ that our body can recognise and develop an immune response to. So, the next time we see the real germ, there are already fighters in our body to protect us against the infection," Dr Brien explains.

Also read: COVID-19: How Will The Vaccine Reach You? Experts Tell

For coronavirus, we need to have fighters for the outside part of the virus, the spike protein. If we have that, we will have a much lower chance of getting the disease from coronavirus, she adds. The fighters, she says, are essentially antibodies. They are a part of our immune system which can attack that particular part of the virus.

All of the vaccines that are currently under development for coronavirus, are ultimately trying to do one thing: they are trying to get that part of the virus- the spike protein mentioned above, into the body. "This is being worked on so that our immune system can develop antibodies against the spike protein," says Dr Brien while adding that there are two approaches to do that.

The first approach is to just put the vaccine in part of the spike protein, or the spike protein itself. The second approach is to give the instructions for how to make the spike protein and let the body produce it.

"In the first group, where we actually give part of the spike protein, is how the vaccines for other diseases work. Sometimes, the vaccine is developed so that it just has the part of germ in it- which is the spike protein for coronavirus," says Dr Brien in the video.

Also read: COVID-19: Is It Safe To Travel During The Holidays? Expert Gives Safety Tips You Must Follow

In other cases, a highly weakened or even killed version of the virus, which still has the spike protein on it. "So, there are different strategies within the first category of giving the spike protein. In all cases, it the particles are quite weakened and protect us from the disease."

The second approach is a new strategy, where instructions are given on how to make the spike protein. "It is an important strategy as it can help in development of vaccines quickly, in a much more efficient way. It facilitates the use of body's own ability to produce proteins, which is a very powerful tool," Dr Brien explains.

How safe are vaccines?

Dr Brien says that our immune systems are incredibly powerful. "On a daily basis, our immune system sees all kinds of virus that come at us, in our nose, mouth, intestinal track and on our hands. The immune system surveys what's out there and prepares the body for when it is exposed to something that could be causing disease. The vaccines provide the immune system a small part of germ that causes the disease. They train the immune system and prepares it to be ready when it actually sees that particular germ. Most vaccines have been evaluated for safety and for the impact they have. There's a safety system for all vaccines, which is constantly looking at the information about the performance of the vaccine," says Dr Brien.

This safety system picks up any issue around safety that may arise in future. Till the time any vaccine is authorised to be safe for use, there's a need to continue taking precautionary measures against coronavirus.

Stay indoors and stay safe, everyone!


Practice hand hygiene and take other precautionary measures till the time a vaccine is authorised for safety of use
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: COVID-19: 3 Myths About Coronavirus You Must Stop Believing

Source: WHO

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