Even after COVID-19 vaccination, facemask, hand sanitisers indispensable —Immunologist

A Professor of Immunology, Professor Ganiyu Arinola, says although the COVID-19 vaccine is 95 per cent effective, if given three months apart, individuals after vaccinated will still need to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and wash or sanitise hands frequently.

Arinola, head, department of Immunology, University of Ibadan said though the vaccine had its own function, it is also important to continue taking these precautions to stop the spread and establishment of COVID-19 in the community.

The don said the current COVID-19 vaccines were reported not to be effective in few percentages of people, including people with serious health conditions such as cancer or weakened immune systems, and as such should be used with caution.

According to him, the few percentages that the vaccines were not effective in may benefit from herd immunity later.

He, however, stated steps toward mass vaccination required long-term safety testing to minimise the risks of future chronic adverse effect.

Professor Arinola added, “Generally, good vaccines should possess these essential features among others such as safe administration, production of an appropriate type of immunity for the disease in question, must be inexpensive for the target population and must take into account geographical, gender and age differences.”

He, however, said in the future experts might have to review the immune responses of individuals to the special coat of the vaccine, the possible adverse immune outcomes to the vaccine,  emergence of new strains of COVID-19 virus after the development of vaccines and the effectiveness of the vaccine in person previous infected by the virus or immune-compromised person.

According to him, “However, the special protective coating (LNP) on these mRNA vaccine is itself foreign to the host and may stimulate an immune response which is still unknown.

“But there aren’t many reports on how previously infected COVID-19 patients respond to Coronavirus vaccines. Vaccination of people who recovered from COVID-19 may mean that their protective antibody production may be effectively boosted and hopefully protected longer. But there is also a chance that vaccination after natural immunity could lead to an unspecified adverse reaction in certain people.

“Should previously recovered COVID-19 patients need a second dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or won’t they experience antibody-dependent immune enhancement (ADE) need confirmation. ADE is a phenomenon occurring when components of the immune system that usually protect against viral infections cause adverse reactions.

“While antibodies against one strain will typically protect against that strain, antibody stimulated by vaccination or infection with another strain may end up as a blocker rather than enhancer of protection. ADE is a possibility which vaccine scientists should be watchful about due to experiences with other vaccines.”

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