As of October 17, about 600,000 people have been vaccinated in Armenia, of which 184,954 people have received two doses. Armenia lags behind other countries in the region in terms of vaccination rate. Less than 6% of the country’s population has received the second dose of the vaccine.
At the same time, a record number of daily COVID-19 cases has been registered in Armenia in recent days, which, however, is not changing the public attitude towards vaccination and vaccines.
The main reason for refusing vaccination is the lack of trust in vaccines, which, in turn, is the result of widespread misinformation and conspiracy theories in the press and social networks.
There are 6 types of vaccines used in Armenia: Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Coronavac. The Fact Investigation Platform decided to refer to the effectiveness and other important features of the vaccines used in Armenia without using scientific and medical terms.
The role of vaccines
The role of COVID-19 vaccines is to produce antibodies against the virus. The World Health Organization approves clinically tested vaccines that are at least 50 percent effective. The effectiveness of vaccines is determined by clinical trials consisting of three phases.
Another question is how long the antibodies formed by the vaccines will last, and whether they will be more effective than the antibodies formed after being infected with COVID-19. Studies on this topic are still ongoing.
Although the WHO does not have clear recommendations and positions on the third dose of the vaccine, some studies have shown that the third dose may contribute to the formation of a more stable immunity. This was also confirmed by a study conducted in Israel, the results of which were published on September 15, as reported by the Nature journal.
Although not yet approved by the WHO, the Russian-made Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine has been scientifically proven to be about 97 percent effective. The vaccine is administered in two doses with an interval of 20 days.
The main criticism of Sputnik V in scientific circles was the lack of access to the complete data of the studies on the vaccine.
Sputnik V has been approved in about seventy countries around the world.
According to studies, the effectiveness of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University can be around 70% on average.
According to a study conducted in late March this year, the vaccine can be up to 76 percent effective for symptomatic cases and up to 100 percent effective for preventing extremely severe cases.
The vaccine also requires two doses with a minimum interval of 28 days. Studies have shown that the vaccine is less effective against the South African strain, but it is effective, for example, in the case of the Brazilian and British strains.
According to the data of July of this year, the probability of blood clots and change in platelet indices is lower – one or two cases in one hundred thousand vaccinations (based on the data provided by the countries of the European Union and Great Britain).
Chinese vaccines – Sinovac/Coronavac and Sinopharm
The vaccine is 51% effective for symptomatic cases and 100% effective for extremely severe cases requiring hospitalization, starting two weeks after the second dose.
The WHO reports that studies show that a person is less likely to become infected with COVID-19 for the second time within six months following the first infection. The main contraindication to the vaccine is for people with a history of anaphylactic shock, as well as for those infected with COVID-19 who have not yet recovered. A temporary contraindication is a temperature of 38.5 and above.
The vaccine is considered safe for people over the age of 18, but there is lack of information about people over the age of 60 due to the low involvement of people in this age group in the trials. However, studies and the experience of the use of the vaccine have shown that after the second dose of these vaccines, the immunity of people over the age of 60 decreases faster, so the third dose is also recommended to ensure a more stable immunity.
Both Chinese vaccines are inactivated vaccines, providing immunity to a number of viral proteins in the human body, which, researchers say, may be one of the reasons for the vaccine’s relatively weak effect.
Moderna is 94% effective, and about 90% for people with health problems.
The indications on the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine are the same as for Pfizer. Pregnant women and people with health problems are advised to consult a doctor before vaccination.
The authors of one of the articles published in the Science journal found that six months after administration of the second dose of Moderna, it is still effective against all strains of COVID-19, only the antibodies against the Beta strain significantly decrease within 6 months.
Recently, three Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden and Finland) stopped vaccinating men under the age of 30 with Moderna due to a rare side effect. According to an unpublished study, cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) found in young men are related to the vaccine. According to Moderna company, such cases, as a rule, were mild in nature. It is also mentioned that in case of being infected with COVID-19 the risk of myocarditis is significantly higher.
Although Armenia has not yet received any dose of Pfizer vaccine, negotiations are ongoing, and according to the authorities, the country will soon receive more of this vaccine.
The effectiveness of the vaccine is about 91% for people over 16 years of age. It is about 89 percent effective for people with health problems.
The second dose of Pfizer is administered two weeks after the first dose. The vaccine is 100% effective for children aged 12-15.
Studies have shown that Pfizer also protects against different COVID-19 strains.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises people with weak immunity to receive a third dose two weeks after the second dose. In other cases, depending on the nature of health problems, it is recommended to receive the third dose after six months. The primary side effects after vaccination may be pain at the injection site, headache, fever, muscle aches, etc.
In rare cases, heart problems occur after vaccination. It is recommended to see a doctor if there is pain in the chest, palpitations or shortness of breath.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, anaphylactic shock occurs in two to five persons per million population in the United States. Myocarditis has rarely been reported with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As of the end of September, 906 such cases were registered in the United States among men under 30 years of age.
However, in all these cases, it has not been proven whether the vaccine is the main cause of death or some of the side effects.