#267 new

Is the Covid vaccine safe?

Reported by lily | December 8th, 2020 @ 04:23 AM

Is the Covid vaccine safe?

UK hospitals have started giving people the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech coronavirus vaccine.

But while many people want an injection as soon as possible, others are worried about putting something unknown into their bodies.

How do we know a vaccine is safe? Safety trials begin in the lab, with tests and research on cells and animals, before moving on to human studies.

The principle is to start small and only move to the next stage of testing if there are no outstanding safety concerns.

What role do trials have? As long as the safety data from the labs is good, scientists can check that the vaccine or treatment is effective too.

That means tests on large numbers of volunteers - around 40,000 individuals in the case of Pfizer/BioNTech.

Half the volunteers are given the vaccine and the other half a dummy or placebo jab. The researchers and participants are not told which group is which, until after the results have been analysed, to avoid bias.

All of the work and findings are checked and verified independently.

Who approves vaccines or treatments? Approval will only be given for a vaccine in the UK if the government regulator, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is happy that it's both safe and effective.

Checks on the vaccine will continue to make sure there are no further side effects or long-term risks.

Independent experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decide how best to use a vaccine and who should get it first.

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