A vaccine like this has never been seen before in world history: BTN162, the Covid vaccine from Pfizer / Biontech, with which the first people in US and Europe were vaccinated, is based on a novel mode of action based on genes. But what exactly are the ingredients of the vaccine against Covid-19? And who should prefer not to be vaccinated in the first place or only after consulting their doctor? Here’s an overview:
BTN162 contains an active ingredient consisting of 30 micrograms of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) per dose. The RNA, the basis of the human viral genome, has been modified. The vaccine contains the blueprint for the spike protein of the coronavirus, which the body should produce itself and then fight. The antibodies and immune cells formed in the process then protect against Covid-19 – for how long and how extensively, however, we do not yet know.
Corona vaccine from Pfizer / Biontech must be stored extremely cold
Because the RNA is not very stable, this vaccine has to be stored extremely cold. As a further protection, the RNA needs a coating, which also helps it to penetrate the cells. This shell consists of lipid nanoparticles, tiny spheres, hardly larger than the virus itself. Three of these four lipids are artificial, the only natural fat they contain is cholesterol. Some experts assume that the cause of the isolated severe allergic reactions after vaccination is to be found in these lipid globules. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) in particular is suspected. However, none of the lipids contained are unusual substances; they are often found in drugs or cosmetics.
Other ingredients of the vaccine are various salts, they are supposed to protect the mRNA and lipids and promote the uptake of the vaccine in the body. Unlike some conventional vaccines, the mRNA vaccine does not require any preservatives or active enhancers (adjuvants).
Biontech / Pfizer vaccine: what is important when vaccinating against corona
Even if the PEG is considered to be the main candidate for triggering individual cases of anaphylactic shock after vaccination, it is not certain what led to it. Particular caution is indicated in the case of severe allergy sufferers who have already reacted with an anaphylactic shock to a vaccination, a drug or possibly a certain food such as shellfish. People with hay fever, allergies to house dust or animal hair probably don’t have to worry.
Patients who are taking certain anticoagulants (blood-thinning medication) – for example to prevent a stroke or thrombosis – should also consult their family doctor. This has to do with the need to inject the vaccine into the muscle, usually the deltoid of the non-dominant upper arm. Because muscles are well supplied with blood, there is an increased risk of bleeding when taking these drugs. The British regulatory authority writes that these patients may only be vaccinated after careful risk-benefit assessment. The recommendation of the German Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) says that you should get the vaccination with a very fine injection needle, then a compress should be pressed firmly onto the puncture site for “at least two minutes”.
Medical advice is essential when taking blood-thinning medication
A vaccination in or under the skin, as it is possible as an alternative with some vaccinations, excludes the Stiko. However, according to the package insert, intramuscular injection is expressly excluded for certain blood-thinning agents, such as „Marcumar“. But patients who take newer anticoagulants such as “Eliquis” or “Xarelto” should also seek medical advice. Another option might be to stop the medication for a few days before vaccination; but that should never be done arbitrarily. The active ingredient ASA, which is also taken by many people as an anticoagulant, is pharmacologically not one of the anticoagulants.
Cancer patient: not yet represented in studies on corona vaccinations
There is no uniform recommendation for cancer patients. For this group, which was not represented in the clinical studies, “no reliable data on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine existed”, says Susanne Weg-Remers, head of the cancer information service at the German Cancer Research Center. It is not clear how various cancer therapies such as chemotherapy or targeted drugs get along with vaccination. Weg-Remers advises the attending physicians „to ask for an assessment.“ The cancer information service can be reached daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. by phone at 0800-4203040 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer: Who shouldn’t be vaccinated yet
In addition, people who have already had Covid-19 should not be vaccinated. However, experts assume that it is not dangerous if someone who has gone through an infection without being noticed is given the vaccination. Pregnant women as well as children and adolescents under the age of 16 should not be vaccinated for the time being, as they have not participated in the previous studies.
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