“I Made a Mistake – I Did Not Get Vaccinated and Now I Am Fighting for My Life”: When Is It “Too Late” for Vaccination Against Covid-19?

Foto nga Portalb.mk/Arbnora Memeti

“I made a mistake – I did not get vaccinated. My condition is serious now and I am in the hospital,” one of the Covid-19 patients in the United States, who had previously refused to be vaccinated, wrote on Facebook. Portalb.mk talked with the chemist Exon Ademi about when it is too late to receive the vaccine against Covid-19 and when a person can be considered vaccinated? writes Portalb.mk.

An unvaccinated parent recorded himself in hospital:

I made a mistake and I did not get vaccinated, I am very sorry about that now, please get vaccinated.

With difficulty breathing and oxygen therapy, father Travis Campbell tried to share his experience of fighting Covid-19 in Virginia Hospital.

He is very sorry that he was not vaccinated, and although his condition is not good at the moment, he still thought that he should convey a message in case he fails to fight the infection.

“I messed up big time, guys,” he said, speaking with difficulty while receiving oxygen therapy, in a video posted on Facebook on Wednesday. “I didn’t get the vaccine… I made a mistake, I admit it,” he added.

Why he was not vaccinated?

In two interviews with CNN from the hospital bed, Campbell and his wife Kelly told how the coronavirus affected their family this summer – and why they decided not to get vaccinated.

Virginia, like the rest of the United States, has an increased incidence of the delta variant, which now dominates the country.

Kelly Campbell and her children became infected with the coronavirus, and all but one had symptoms, including cough, fever, and dizziness.

“We have all recovered,” Kelly told CNN. “We did not have severe symptoms as Travis.” When asked why their family was not vaccinated, they replied:

“At the beginning of 2020, my daughter’s entire basketball team got sick. They had symptoms of Covid-19. “Therefore, we all thought we had already had the disease.”

They have no confirmation whether or not they had the virus in 2020. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone gets vaccinated, whether or not they have had the virus.

Last week, the CDC released a study showing that people who were infected with Covid-19 in 2020 without being vaccinated were twice as likely to be infected with the coronavirus than those who had been vaccinated with the two doses.

Call for everyone to get vaccinated

“I can’t breathe. I’m drowning. I feel like I’m a fish without water,” Campbell said from his hospital bed.

“It was my fault,” he said. “I should have taken my kids and my wife and went ahead and got vaccinated anyway. But I’m paying the price.

“And I just tell everybody and anybody: If you’re on the fence, I want you to take a very sharp evaluation of what your life means to you. And go get vaccinated, please, please.”- adds Campbell.

What protection does the first dose of the vaccine provide?

The chemist Egzon Ademi for Portalb.mk pointed out that because of the appearance of the new mutated coronaviruses, the protection with the first dose of the vaccine is weaker. According to him, after the first dose of the vaccine, a person can be considered only 30 percent protected.

“The protection that vaccines provide depends on the course of the virus or its mutations. Over time, the virus changes in order to infect as many people as possible. Thus for the first variants of SARS – COV-2, more effective mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna) provided protection of about 51 percent after the first dose or 11-14 days after the first dose, but now with the evolution of the virus and the occurrence of new variants such as the Delta variant, with mutations that have the ability to bypass previous immunity and vaccines, this protection is significantly weaker. The Institute of Public Health in the UK has stated in an official report that Pfizer / Biontech and Astra Zeneca with only one dose are only 30 percent effective against the Delta variant, which is insufficient, so it is suggested not to miss the second dose of vaccines,” says the chemist Ademi.

He says it takes about five weeks for “complete” vaccination.

According to him, no vaccine protects 100 percent from coronavirus. However, he believes that protection is sufficient only after 2 weeks of receiving the second dose, while for a vaccination with only one dose he thinks it is the same as taking half a tablespoon of medicine.

“Vaccines are in two doses (except Johnson and Johnson) and to be considered not only protected but also fully vaccinated, two weeks after receiving the second dose need to pass. Vaccination is a process that lasts about 5 weeks and for one person the peak of antibodies is about 14 days after the second dose and during this period the person must be careful not to get infected. No vaccine protects 100 percent, because there is no such medicine in the world. Now, with the Delta variant the most effective vaccines, those with mRNA, have an effectiveness of 88 percent with 2 doses, while Astra Zeneca has 67 percent. Therefore, both doses must be taken, otherwise, it will be the same as drinking half a spoon of medicine and the manufacturers themselves do not guarantee protection if the vaccination is not completed,” said Exon Ademi for Portalb.mk.

 

When is it too late?

Exon Ademi noted that many patients in Western countries seek to receive the Covid-19 vaccine after being intubated as a consequence of the disease. According to him, this moment is too late. He added that it is too late to receive the vaccine after being infected with the virus or hospitalized and appealed to the population to get vaccinated at the first opportunity.

“Sorry, but it’s too late – is the most famous phrase used by doctors in some Western countries in the Covid-19 wards to tell patients who have asked to be vaccinated before being intubated. So when you get sick, when you end up in the hospital, then it is too late. The vaccine is given ahead of time. Although we have vaccines, and they are approved to be received without appointments without waiting, they are neglected by people for no reason. There are over 4.3 billion vaccines in the world and there are countries in Africa that have been begging for vaccine donations for months, so where there are vaccines, people need to take immunization seriously otherwise the pandemic will not end, new waves will come just like is happening now in the Polog region where the vaccination rate is 20 percent and the fourth wave has already occurred due to carelessness and non-vaccination. This is a late vaccination, but it is never too late to protect ourselves and others. Vaccination and observance of the measures work only when the whole community is vaccinated, otherwise, those who are being careful are endangered by the unvaccinated and those who do not comply with the measures,” added Exon Ademi for Portalb.mk.

 

How many antibodies are enough?

Antibodies are produced in humans after recovery from infection or after vaccination. SARS – COV-2 uses the spike protein to enter cells and break through them. From the spike protein, antibodies can detect the virus, target it, and thus make it “recognizable” to the cells of the immune system.

In mRNA vaccines such as Biontech / Pfizer, scientists thought that those vaccinated were protected against more than 90 percent of the virus, but after the Delta variant, which is more contagious, this protection is lower and the virus manages to infect people who receive only the first dose.

Immunologist Carsten Watzl of the Leibniz Institute and the Dortmund University of Technology estimates that the effectiveness of the Biontech vaccine drops to 88 percent, while that of vector vaccines such as Astra Zeneca drops from 66 percent to 60. Data from Israel even show protection of only 64 percent with the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine.

 

The Ministry of Health is considering a third dose

The Delta variant poses great challenges to researchers. So far, most of us have been immunized in the best case after two vaccines from the already known variants of the virus. But this does not apply to all vaccinated, says immunologist Carsten Watzl.

“The vaccine alone does not guarantee that you are immunized. It is crucial that our body has created adequate protection. But so far we can not measure this. The tetanus vaccine is different. If we do not know if we are sufficiently protected, we can measure this with a laboratory test. If the number of antibodies is above a certain value, then the person is immunized against the virus, if that value is lower, then the doctor may recommend a repeat of the vaccine. As for the coronavirus, we have not yet reached that stage. We do not know exactly what we need to measure in order to truly determine whether someone is immunized or not. Neutralizing antibodies play a key role, as they “bind” the virus so that it does not infect other cells. But how high the antibody count should be, is still unclear.”- says Watzl.

 

The role of lymphocyte T cells

Antibodies alone are not important in fighting an infection. If the virus has entered the body, the antibodies can no longer reach it because they cannot reach the cells. The virus multiplies.

“To fight the virus, our immune system has lymphocyte T cells. They are able to recognize and eliminate infected cells. So, we sacrifice a few infected cells in our body to keep the virus from multiplying.” – explains Watzl.

This can be measured, but it is practically very difficult to identify the number of T cells. This test is difficult, but also valuable.

“Antibodies alone do not show how protected you are. It may happen that we have very few antibodies, and we get the virus, but the T cell response is so strong that there will be no severe clinical picture of the disease.”

There are various tests that measure antibodies. Laboratories normally have clear standards, ranging from a minimum to a maximum. The doctor can tell if the values ​​are within the allowable range, but with the coronavirus, this is not exactly specified. It can only be measured approximately. Measured values ​​range from less than one hundred to several thousand antibodies.

“The higher the number of antibodies, the greater the immunological protection is. But I can not tell the exact value.”

It is also not clear how fast the antibody level falls. For now, it is only known that over time it disappears.

“This is happening in two phases. If you measure the values ​​immediately after vaccination, then you have a higher number of antibodies. In the first months after vaccination, this value falls rapidly. But at some point there is a stabilization around a certain value and that value starts to fall more slowly, we know this from other vaccines and it looks like this is also the case with the corona vaccine,” said the expert, but still nothing has been scientifically tested.

There are people who have been vaccinated with two doses and have no or very few antibodies. These people are probably not protected from the virus, warns Watzl. There are many factors behind this low level of antibodies. One of them is age, but also the weak immune system that does not function as in healthy people and does not properly protect us from external “attacks”. A third vaccine often needs to be given for the body to start making antibodies. The conclusion of the expert Carsten Watzl is – More doses, more protection.

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