NIH officials highlight COVID-19 vaccine facts, unknowns for healthcare providers

January 18, 2021


Healthcare providers must be able to explain the latest data supporting the safety and efficacy of vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) so they can strongly encourage vaccination when appropriate while acknowledging that uncertainty and unknowns remain. This message comes from a new commentary co-authored by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other leading NIAID scientists in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The commentary provides an overview of the seven COVID-19 vaccines furthest along in development in the United States. For each vaccine candidate, the authors describe the platform used, the current stage of development, and the clinical trial results that have been reported or when results are expected. Noting that rare side effects may emerge as large populations become vaccinated, the authors caution that careful analysis will be required to distinguish between conditions that occur by chance after vaccination and side effects caused specifically by the vaccines.

The authors also explain that outstanding questions about the vaccines include their safety in special populations, how long they protect against symptomatic disease, and the degree to which they protect against infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Study data are being analyzed to answer this latter, urgent question, the answer to which may have the greatest immediate impact on the pandemic.

Recent polls suggest that only 40% to 60% of the U.S. population currently plans to get vaccinated. Therefore, the authors write, if the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission, the virus will continue to circulate, infect and cause serious disease in some people who are not vaccinated. In addition, if the vaccines do not provide durable, high levels of protection from infection and do not drive the prevalence of the virus to near zero, researchers will need to thoroughly analyze virus shedding and transmission. This information could guide the prioritization of populations for vaccination and help researchers improve upon the first generation of vaccines, according to the authors.

Meanwhile, they write, even as vaccination is scaled up, healthcare providers must continue to reinforce the importance of "low-tech" public health measures of physical distancing, handwashing and masking until the current outbreak is under control.

M Connors et al. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines: Much accomplished, much to learn. Annals of Internal Medicine
DOI: 10.7326/M21-0111 (2021)


NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is available for comment.

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Infectious Diseases Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding the spread of infectious diseases
Physicists at M√ľnster University (Germany) have shown in model simulations that the COVID-19 infection rates decrease significantly through social distancing.

Forecasting elections with a model of infectious diseases
Election forecasting is an innately challenging endeavor, with results that can be difficult to interpret and may leave many questions unanswered after close races unfold.

COVID-19 a reminder of the challenge of emerging infectious diseases
The emergence and rapid increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, pose complex challenges to the global public health, research and medical communities, write federal scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.

Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.

Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.

Math shows how human behavior spreads infectious diseases
Mathematics can help public health workers better understand and influence human behaviors that lead to the spread of infectious disease, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Many Americans say infectious and emerging diseases in other countries will threaten the US
An overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a 'major' or 'minor' threat to the U.S. in the next few years, but more than half (61%) say they are confident the federal government can prevent a major infectious disease outbreak in the US, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to