2020 was certainly a year that will be remembered forever. As the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the globe, terms such as “social distancing” and “face masks” dominated the news cycle. COVID-19 is a contagious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The index case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The symptoms of COVID-19 are quite variable but can include the following:
• fevers or chills
• shortness of breath
• muscle or body aches
• new loss of taste or smell
• sore throat
• nausea and vomiting
Severity of symptoms can range from asymptomatic/mild to severe with acute respiratory distress syndrome precipitated by cytokine storms and multi-organ failure. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after virus exposure. Route of virus transmission is suspected to be primarily spread through small droplets and aerosols from an infected person’s nose and mouth as they breath or cough. Common diagnostic testing is performed through nasopharyngeal swab, and management for COVID-19 includes symptomatic treatment, supportive care, and isolation.
As we have learned more about SARS-CoV-2, much attention has been focused on disease prevention. Currently, two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been FDA approved, and three vaccines from AstraZeneca, Janssen, and Novavax are participating in Phase 3 Clinical Trials. Let’s take a closer look at the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are being distributed to high-risk populations:
|Target Population||16 years and older||18 years and older|
|Efficacy in preventing symptomatic||195% at 7 days after second doser||94.1% at 14 days after second dose|
|Interval between primer dose and booster shot||21 days||28 days|
|Storage||-94° F||-4° F|
The most common side effects of the vaccines are reported be reactogenic. These include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint pain. Of note, these vaccines do not contain live virus and cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Vaccines may require booster shots at some yet-to-be-determined interval due to fading protection or virus mutation, similar to the influenza vaccine.
As we continue to learn and develop more methods for treatment and prevention, we are all hoping to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2. As of January 2021, nearly 24 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the US alone and have accounted for nearly 400,000 total deaths.
The vaccine appears to be safe and effective. Don't forget to wear your masks and socially distant. Here is hoping 2021 is better and maybe even closer to normal than 2020.