KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Sudanese Medical Doctor Yusri Abdalla Taha is a member of the Oxford University team of researchers who produced the AstraZeneca vaccine, now in wide application around the World to guard against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. Yusri is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Khartoum. Further he had obtained a doctorate degree of medicine from the London University, in addition to a fellowship from the Royal college of Pathology. Currently he is consultant on internal medicine, contiguous diseases and laboratory sciences in Newcastle University, and other research bodies in the UK.
Dr. Yusri was recently hosted by the Sudan's National Centre For Research to answer public questions on Covid-19 and the AstraZeneca vaccine:
Following is a translation of excerpts of his speech:
The Biggest Pandemic in History
Dr. Yusri is of the view that Covid 19 is probably the biggest pandemic in human history, for many reasons: The big contact among humans of our age that never existed before. That has accordingly caused an effect bigger than those of other pandemics, though the disease or death caused by this virus may be less than those caused by other viruses, like those causing Ebola or measles for instance. But because this virus is new and has spread over the World in a few weeks, its size is bigger with respect to its effect on the general health around the world and on the social, political and economic lives of humans.
Despite the severity of the pandemic, yet it has triggered what can be called a scientific revolution in the past one and a half years the world has never seen before. It had never happened that scientists had made such a big scientific production as they have done during this short period.
There are medical and scientific data that is becoming available for the common man every day, every minute on his mobile phone. The volume of information has become so big and available anytime for everybody. But unfortunately this information may sometimes look conflicting, causing confusion. That has set many people in wonder what to believe of disbelieve. Here comes the role of initiatives like the one where we are talking at –the National Centre for Research. This Centre’s scientists can help disseminate the right information in this country.
Vaccines are of a legendary position in public health. Our life on this planet would have been different without vaccines, in particular for us in the world’s poor countries. Had we not vaccines for polio, whooping coughs and measles what would our situation be? There was even a virus that was wiped from the earth’s surface. That is the smallpox that no longer exists, thanks to the vaccinations.
Vaccination is the most viable of protective medicines. It may sound good if we say it is better to look for a medicine that kills a virus. But this is not always possible. There is no medicine for covid-19 so far.
Vaccines have a long history and we know what to do about them. We also know their benefits. That is why we have managed to prepare them quickly, because they are available to us and we have methods to produce them when a pandemic occurs.
We have a group of vaccines called traditional. That is taking the virus that causes the disease, weaken it and inject it in the patient. Whether traditional or novel, the aim of creating the vaccine is one. That is to get part of the virus and expose it to the human immune system. This is a simulation of the work of nature. These tiny creatures, whether they are bacteria or viruses may have existed on this planet, even before the existence of man. We are in a state of continuous war with these creatures. All what people have done in the preparation of vaccines was a simulation of what happens in nature. When you enter a virus into the human body, the immune system basically deals with it
in two interwoven and complicated ways, to rid the body from the disease. At the same time a memory is created to counter future infection.
But these bacteria and viruses are very different, even in nature, let alone the vaccines. There are viruses that infect a person and then go. But the immunity the person acquires stays
The person who is infected with measles, if he takes the vaccine will not be infected with measles again. But the person who is attacked with influenza and takes the vaccine has to take the vaccine the next year, because the virus is in a continuous state of variance. Any talk about Covid 19 should be within an understanding of how Covid19 works, and diseases are different from each other. You cannot apply the same information on every virus.
The Viruses Hazards
Sadly, talk about the dangers of vaccines is an exaggeration, and is spreading widely on the media and on purpose. As a matter of fact the side effects of viruses are very little, compared with the ordinary drugs we take daily for hypertension, sugar and stomach troubles.
Most of these symptoms associated with vaccines are represented in fever, a little quiver and joint pain that take one or two days and then go. These symptoms appear because the immune system has done action. They are a reaction of the immune system to this strange visitor that entered the body. That is, they are not a diseases per se. They are very reasonable effects of the vaccine, if we consider that they protect us from Corona. With the exception of the clots that occurred after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, the side effects are very little. Clots after the use of AstraZeneca are a rare side effect (one in a million) and may be attributed to the other medicines the person is taking.
Viruses are prone to variances. Any virus that moves from one person to another varies at different levels, according to the virus type. If we do not stop the virus, it will vary. The best way to stop the virus variance is to protect the people. The person who is protected by vaccination is 90 percent immune from the virus.
Variance takes place in nature and we have no way to stop it. To control the virus is to stop its multiplication through anti viruses. There is no antidote for Covid-19 virus yet. But we are working on it, trying, but not able so far. Here comes the value of vaccines.
Now we have three cities in Britain where the Indian variant has appeared in recent weeks. All what the government could do was to speed up with vaccination in the cities, to block the spread of the Indian strain. Youngsters who did not take the vaccine have been allowed to.
What are the differences between the three vaccines; AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer?
The final aim of the vaccines is to expose part of the virus to the human immune system. These three vaccines expose the spike protein to the vaccine. But this exposure varies from one vaccine to another. In the AstraZeneca another virus known as adenovirus is brought. It exists in chimpanzees and had been developed 18 years ago.
How effective is the Russian vaccine?
We are now in need of every vaccine doze, be it Chinese, Japanese or Russian. The world is in a difficult situation and there are no available vaccines. Unfortunately the rich countries have taken all the vaccines. Out of 1.5 billion dozes, the poor nations in Africa and Asia have taken just one percent of the dozes.
The technology used in the Russian vaccine is similar to that used in AstraZeneca. The difference is from where it is taken. In AstraZeneca they took a chimpanzee gene. In the Russian vaccine they took a human gene. I expect its effect to be similar to that of AstraZeneca, albeit they did not take the WHO license for it to come under the COVAX that distributes vaccines for free to the poor nations.
Cause of clots associated with AstraZeneca?
Up to now nobody is 100 percent aware about the clot cause. But indications point that the problem is not in the vaccine itself. Otherwise we could have seen clots in hundreds of millions who took this vaccine. The problem is now confined to young ages of both sexes. But the majority are females. This is a rare occurrence, most probably for the existence of an antibody. What is important is that this is not something to predict.
Can the vaccine have long-term side effects?
The long-term side effect depends on the time the drug remains in the body. As we have said, the vaccine is part of the genes, covered with fat (cholesterol). What has delayed the production of these vaccines is that the genes once they get into the body, they decompose and the body is unable to make a protein from them to be exposed to the immune system. What we have done all those years was to fix this gene for minutes or hours. The vaccine decomposes in hours. For this it would not have a side effect after two months.
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