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COVID-19 Vaccine & The New Strain: What You Need To Know
The Update — Special Report  | Issue no. 16, January 2021

Table of Contents

A. The COVID-19 Vaccine | B. The New Strain of COVID-19

A. The COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccines usually take years to be developed, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hussle researchers have developed about 64 vaccines from which 20 have reached the final stages of testing.
The main approved vaccines are Pfizer- BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinopharm. 
This version of The Update will provide an in-depth summary of the most important information on the vaccines available in the country and the new COVID-19 strain,
COVID-19 Vaccine

What are the vaccines available in UAE?
The first in line in UAE is the Sinopharm inactivated virus vaccine which has passed the 3rd phase of clinical trials and was found to have 86% of efficacy in preventing disease and 100% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease and noted as a safe vaccine. Two injections are needed over 28 days since the virus is deactivated and the body’s response is relatively week.

The DHA started delivering the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine to people in 23rd December 2020, it was found that it has efficacy of 94% and is safe. The vaccine is given in two doses; second dose given after 21 days. 
COVID-19 Vaccination Centers - Video
How have the vaccines been tested?
All vaccines have to undertake 4 steps of the drug control clinical trials.
Step 1:
Preclinical Trials – In this step, the vaccine should be tested on cells and then on animals to see if it produces any immune response.
Step 2: Phase 1 Safety Trials – After it passes through the preclinical trial, it is then tested on a small number of people to check for safety, efficacy, and dosage.
Step 3: Phase 2 Safety Trials – The vaccine is then tested on a larger number of people, around hundreds of them. Also tested on two groups, children and elderly to check for its safety.
Step 4: Phase 3 Safety Trials – Then it is tested on thousands of people and is compared to a placebo group for becoming infected, this step can decide if the vaccine will protect against the virus or not and the efficacy rate can be calculated. Any rare side effects will be discovered.
Either Approved or AbandonedAfter reviewing the trials, authorities decide whether this vaccine can be approved and or should it be abandoned.

What is the benefit?
  • Taking the vaccine by the majority of citizens and residents will help reach herd immunity in the country and thus control the disease’s spread.
  • According to the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will not work against the new strain of the coronavirus.
What are the side effects?
  • The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, myalgia, chills, joint pain, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose.
  • An interesting finding from the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trials is that while the vaccines seem to be just as effective in older adult participants, people 65 and older experienced fewer side effects than younger volunteers.
  • According to the FDA’s analysis, allergic reactions were very rare in the Pfizer/BioNTech trial, affecting only 0.63% of people who got the vaccine, compared to the 0.51% in the placebo group.
  • Lymphadenopathy occurred in a small portion of the participant population, and four people who received Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • It is not yet known whether the vaccine prevents asymptomatic cases or transmission of the virus. The FDA reported that they did not have enough data to make conclusions about the safety of the vaccine in children younger than 16, pregnant or lactating women, and immunocompromised people.
Who should take the vaccine?

Who shouldn’t take the vaccine?
  • Children below 18 years
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • People with immunosuppression
  • People with known allergies to any kind of vaccine, medications, or food
  • If already been infected with COVID-19 (should wait for 3 months at least from date of infection to take the vaccine)
  • If a person has taken other vaccine like the influenza vaccine, they should wait 4 weeks to take the COVID-19 vaccine
What is the process of receiving the vaccine in Dubai?


In this section, we provide and answer all the questions regarding the new strain of COVID-19 that was isolated in the UK recently. 

What is the new variant of SARS-CoV-2?

- The new variant of SARS-CoV 2 has been named VUI-202012/01.
- It is the first variant under investigation and is defined by a set of seventeen mutations
- The most significant mutation is the N501Y mutation, which is in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human receptors ACE2.
- If there were any changes in any part of the spike protein it may result in the virus becoming more infectious which may result in people getting infected easily.

Can this variant be detected?

- It was detected by the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, which undertakes random genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples.
- Since April 2020 the consortium has sequenced one hundred forty thousand virus genomes from infected people with COVID-19.

Is it common?

-  About one thousand one hundred eight cases with this variant had
been identified in the UK in nearly sixty different local authorities.
-  In late September it accounted for twenty percent of the viruses
sequenced in Norfolk, ten percent were in Essex, and about three percent
were in Suffolk.
-  It was said that there is no data that suggests it had been imported from
abroad which is likely to have evolved in the United Kingdom. 
- The UAE announced that it had detected a “limited number” of cases of the new strain of Covid-19 that originated in Britain.
- "In light of the emergence of the new strain of the coronavirus in Britain, and in conjunction with the continuous investigations by the health sector, it has been proven that there are limited cases in the country ... received from abroad," said Dr. Omar Al Hammadi, the official spokesperson for the UAE Government.

How quickly do the variants of SARS-CoV-2 spread?

- It was told by Matt Hancock that on the fourteenth of December the initial analysis showed that the new variant may be associated with the recent rise in cases in the southeast England region.
- Loman explained that this variant is strongly associated with where we are seeing an increased rate of COVID-19.
- There has been a striking growth in the variant which is why there need to be urgent precautionary measures, and follow-up investigations.


Is mutation expected?

-  Naturally, mutations arise as the virus replicates.
- Even though thousands of mutations have already arisen, only a very small minority are likely to be important and change the virus in an appreciable way.
- It is said by the government of the United Kingdom that there are currently about four thousand mutations in the spike protein.
- “​Mutations are expected and are a natural part of evolution. Many thousands of mutations have already arisen, and the vast majority have no effect on the virus but can be useful as a barcode to monitor outbreaks.” as said by the director of the United Kingdom Government, Sharon Peacock.

Are the new variants more dangerous?

-  It is believed that D614G variants have increased the ability of the virus, which allows it to be transmitted and now it is the most common type circulating in the United Kingdom.
- The laboratory is currently working on a way to find evidence if the variant increases or decreases the severity of the disease.

Does the vaccine work?

- It’s unlikely that a single change would make the vaccine less effective.
- As more mutations occur, they might need to alter the vaccine.
- It was said by Peacock “With this variant, there is no evidence that it will evade the vaccination or human immune response. But if there is an instance of vaccine failure or reinfection then that case should be treated as a high priority for genetic sequencing.”
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is not enough information to determine whether the new variant could undermine vaccines being rolled out internationally.

- COVID-19 Vaccine Awareness Guide.
- Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine: Distribution, Side Effects and Everything You Need to Know.
- CoronaVirus Vaccine Tracker. 
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
- What Are the Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccines?.
- Explained: full guide to Dubai's Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine campaign.
- Wise, J. (2020). Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK. BMJ,m4857.
Students Achievements!
GIT Symptoms of COVID-19 - Slide Show Video
Slide show of a presentation made by Year 2 MBBS students on "GIT Symptoms of COVID-19", under the supervision of Dr. Manal Mahmoud Sami - Professor & Chairperson Pathology Department. 
Copyright © 2021 RAK Medical & Health Sciences University, All rights reserved.

For comments and corrections, please contact the authors:

Nour Sabaneh -
Committee on Science & Technology Officer - MBBS Yr 4 
Mira Osman - Subcommittee member, Committee on Science & Technology - MBBS Yr 4
Ruba Hassan - Subcommittee member, Committee on Science & Technology - Intern
Rim Ashraf - Subcommittee member, Committee on Science & Technology - MBBS Yr 2
Zaki Emad - Subcommittee member, Committee on Science & Technology - Intern

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