DISINFACTS | Issue 1/2021

KNOWLEDGE 4 Hope versus reality: Vaccination against COVID-19 However, a meaningful coverage rate – enough for life to return to normal – is not only a question of vaccine availability but also of people‘s willingness to be vaccinated. These uncertainties and concerns of people that arise in regards to vaccination‘s safety are best addressed through transparent information. There is one factor, however, over which humans have no control. All viruses naturally mutate over time, and Sars-CoV-2 is no exception. It remains to be seen whether these mutations will affect vaccinations‘ effectiveness in the future, and if this is the case, how are we able to respond to these changes [3]. Vaccinations are only a single component. Hygiene is still essential There is still no doubt that vaccinating against COVID-19 is a critical component in fighting the pandemic. However, what has become clear by now is that the approval of vaccines does not mean that the pandemic will end overnight. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) [1], ‘effective and safe vaccinations represent an important building block for the protection of the population and the containment of the pandemic and can contribute to reducing the need for contact restrictions in the medium term’. This implies that while vaccinations are essential to beating COVID-19, they are only a part of a multifold strategy. Containing the spread of new infections means that the existing hygiene measures must remain in place. Herd immunity, vaccination uptake and mutations The extent to which vaccinations will have an impact on curbing the pandemic in the near future depends on multiple factors. Experts estimate that a vaccination coverage rate of 60–70% is necessary to combat the pandemic effectively [2]. Throughout 2020, many of us have been eagerly anticipating the development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines.Towards the end of 2020, it seemed like the wait was finally over as the first vaccine was approved for use in the EU in December and the second and third followed suit shortly afterwards. Since mid-March, a fourth vaccine has been approved in the EU. Gradually, more vaccines will be approved and available on the market. The pressing question on everyone’s mind is: what now? Sources: 1. Robert Koch-Institut (RKI). Epidemiologisches Bulletin 02/2021; https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Archiv/2021/Ausgaben/02_21.pdf 2. Deutsches Ärzteblatt. News vom 30.11.2020; https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/118837/Fuer-Herdenimmunitaet-Coronaimpfrate-von-bis-zu-70-Prozent-noetig 3. dos Santos WG. Impact of virus genetic variability and host immunity for the success of COVID-19 vaccines. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021; 136: 111272. https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802525/ Want to find out more about COVID-19 vaccines? • Information from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on COVID-19 and vaccinations, including FAQ: https://www.rki.de/EN/Content/ infections/epidemiology/outbreaks/ COVID-19/COVID19.html • WHO overview of international vaccine developments, mechanisms of action and more: https://www.who.int/emergencies/ diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/ covid-19-vaccines • Up-to-date reports from the Paul Ehrlich Institute on COVID-19 vaccines and their safety: https://www.pei.de/EN/home/home- node.html;jsessionid=E30BEFEE EB5EE5DA138B6DCB551C6EB3. intranet212

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