AstraZeneca: Why the vaccine is better than its reputation

Since the vaccine was approved by the company AstraZeneca in Europe at the end of January, a third highly effective serum is available in the fight against the Corona pandemic - also in Waldeck-Frankenberg. At the moment, all vaccines are still in short supply, which is why vaccinated people are not free to choose which serum they can receive. For people over 60, the vaccine from AstraZeneca is currently intended. Thomas Hetche, head of the health department, explains why this vaccine is much better than its reputation.

How does AstraZeneca's vaccine work? How does it differ from other vaccines from Moderna or Biontech & Pfizer?

Thomas Hetche: "The active substance from the AstraZeneca company works like this: Through a messenger virus that is completely harmless to us, the serum transports a copy of a small part of the corona inheritance into our cells. Our body reacts to this and forms proteins on which our immune system can train its defences. If we then actually come into contact with the corona virus, we are armed. This type of vaccine, which works with the help of a carrier virus, has been around for a few years. They are called vector vaccines. Biontech & Pfizer and Moderna, on the other hand, do not use a carrier virus, but transport the blueprint of the coronavirus itself into our body so that it reproduces it on its own - and thus builds up an immune defence. In the final result, therefore, the vaccine types do not differ greatly from each other. Incidentally, with both modes of action, no impairment of our genetic make-up or fertility is possible."

2 On paper, the vaccines from Moderna and Biontech & Pfizer achieve higher efficacy. Why is AstraZeneca's active ingredient nevertheless much better than its reputation? 

Thomas Hetche: "All three vaccines against the coronavirus approved so far are highly effective. According to studies, the effectiveness of AstraZeneca's vaccine is 70 percent - far above the required approval level of 50 percent. By comparison, flu vaccines often offer at most 50 per cent protection. AstraZeneca does have a slightly lower efficacy than the other two vaccines approved so far. However, this does not change the fact that it is safe and does what it is supposed to do: Prevent severe disease progression with hospitalisation - and thus save lives."

3. what about the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Thomas Hetche: "As with all other vaccinations, you may experience typical vaccination reactions such as fatigue, headache or joint pain, nausea, chills, pain at the injection site or fever. Sometimes the side effects can be a little more severe than with the vaccines from Moderna and Biontech & Pfizer. Even if it sounds paradoxical, we should be happy about it. Because: The stronger the body reacts to the serum, the stronger the immune defence and the better protected we are when we actually come into contact with the coronavirus. These side effects are therefore no cause for concern at all and subside again in a very short time."

4 What do you say to critics who oppose vaccination with AstraZeneca's serum?

Thomas Hetche: "That we should always prefer mild cold symptoms to lying on a ventilator in intensive care - regardless of which vaccine was used to achieve protection. Vaccinations are the key to getting out of the pandemic - and back to a new normal."