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Dr. Jon LaPook shares his experience getting the coronavirus vaccine

Since I am a training doctor at NYU Langone Well being, right this moment was my flip to get the Pfizer vaccine towards SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Along with seeing sufferers in my workplace, I carry out procedures as a gastroenterologist that may doubtlessly expose me to aerosolized virus.

This was me final April on the COVID wards, shocked by the devastation.

Now I am shocked — and thrilled — that vaccines have been developed in lower than a yr. I do know some individuals have been delay by the time period Operation Warp Velocity due to fears that vaccines are being developed too shortly. However the report time from publication of the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 to the start of Part 1 security trials was achieved due to a long time of earlier analysis creating so-called “vaccine platforms.”

On December 15, I interviewed Nationwide Institutes of Well being director Dr. Francis Collins, and he gave me an easy-to-understand analogy for these platforms. Think about there is a manufacturing facility making some sort of a widget. “You determine learn how to make widgets rather well, after which you possibly can change the design slightly bit, and you can also make a distinct widget, however actually quick, as a result of you have already got the meeting line there. It is sort of what we’re doing with these vaccine platforms.”

Whereas vaccines towards COVID are being developed in report time, this hasn’t been a lot a sudden leap as a gradual lower within the time we have to develop a vaccine.

In accordance with the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, again in 2003, it took 20 months from the number of a genetic sequence for the SARS virus circulating again then till the primary human injection of a vaccine. With H5N1 (fowl flu) in 2006, that point was shortened to 11 months. H1N1 (swine flu) took 4 months, Zika, 3.25 months. With the Moderna vaccine towards COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2 sequence was posted January tenth, Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Illnesses (NIAID) and Moderna began work January eleventh, manufacturing started January 14th, and the Part 1 trial started March sixteenth, 2020 — solely about two months after the viral sequence was recognized. What a scientific tour de pressure!

Operation Warp Velocity started Could fifteenth, and has helped velocity up the testing of vaccine candidates by chopping crimson tape, however public well being officers I belief, together with Dr. Anthony Fauci, have assured me no corners have been reduce. I’ve reviewed the information offered within the public FDA advisory committee conferences that reviewed the Emergency Use Authorization requests for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and I agree with the FDA’s determination that, primarily based on the present scientific proof accessible, the advantages of those vaccines far outweigh the dangers. Pfizer’s vaccine was licensed for people 16 and older, Moderna’s for these 18 years and older.

Researchers are trying into some severe allergic reactions which have occurred in about 1 in 45,000 individuals to this point who’ve obtained the Pfizer vaccine, and they are going to be searching for every other sudden unintended effects sooner or later. It is too early to know the precise incidence of those reactions. This morning, I reached out to Dr. Fauci for perception into the allergic reactions, and he texted me this: “Certainly one of my divisions right here at NIAID is planning a research to discover all this — incidence, mechanisms, and so forth.”

For me, the advantage of being protected far outweighs the extremely unlikely danger of a severe side-effect.

Getting the vaccine felt precisely the identical to me as getting a flu shot. I felt slightly pinch, and am nonetheless feeling superb two hours later. No huge deal.

What I felt most was a combination of feelings — all good. I used to be caught without warning by tearing up as I began to explain how I used to be feeling for our CBS Information digicam. I assume the burden of all these months — caring for sufferers, attempting to maintain myself, my family members, my associates, and so many others protected, coupled with the tension-filled job of reporting on the pandemic — caught up with me.

I felt a flood of aid, although I do know it can nonetheless be a problem to get sufficient of the inhabitants immunized to realize herd immunity. I felt gratitude that vaccines have gotten accessible lower than a yr after we acknowledged there was a novel coronavirus.

And I felt amazement on the scientific accomplishment. I do know logically in regards to the a long time of analysis that led to my being immunized. I perceive how a tiny piece of genetic code — messenger RNA — stashed away inside a protecting lipid nanoparticle creates immunity to SARS-CoV-2 by tricking the immune system into considering it is being attacked by the virus. However there’s additionally part of me that appears at this astounding achievement as pure magic.

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