March 30, 2021

Background: COVID-19 vaccination is ramping up both in the US as well as throughout the world. Randomized clinical trials looking at the efficacy of the mRNA vaccines demonstrated 94% to 95% reductions in symptomatic cases (Polack 2020). Randomized clinical trials are considered the gold standard when evaluating therapies. However, they are not without limitations. Mass vaccination rollouts do not mirror the settings we see in the highly controlled environments of a randomized clinical trial. It will be important to note if suboptimal adherence to vaccination scheduling and handling logistics will affect the vaccines’ effectiveness. As we continue to vaccinate, we need to further assess the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines.

March 28, 2021

Background: Israel has succeeded in ramping up its vaccination program faster than any nation in the world. In December 2020, Israel began a national immunization campaign prioritizing health-care workers. In the original clinical trial data, the Pfizer vaccine was estimated to prevent 52.4% of COVID-19 before dose two and 90.5% on days 2 – 7 after dose two. However, it is important to study the effectiveness of the vaccines in a real world setting.

December 15, 2020

Background: The COVID-19 Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine, let’s just call it the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (so I don’t have to keep writing BNT162b2) is a novel mRNA vaccine developed to give immunity against the SARS CoV2 virus. It is synthesized mRNA packaged in small lipid nanoparticles but must be stored at extremely low temperatures (-70 C and 2 - 8 C for 5 days ) to prevent degradation.  The mRNA encodes for a small portion of the SARS CoV2 virus known as the spike protein and does not encode for the entire virus itself. This small lipid nanoparticle is injected into your body and then enters the cell. The lipid nanoparticles serve to protect and preserve the mRNA from degradation and allows it to enter cells readily.  After the mRNA enters the cells, the ribosomes will then take the mRNA and begin to synthesize this information to produce the spike protein portion of the SARS CoV-2 virus. The spike protein is what is believed to help the SARS CoV-2 virus enter human cell, replicate, and then lead to the syndrome known as COVID-19. This spike protein is believed to be the immunogenic portion of the virus that the body will then recognize as foreign and begin to develop an immune response against. The vaccine is given in 2 doses that are to be administered 3 weeks apart.