Those who have got the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine should continue taking precautions until sufficient antibodies are developed, noted a top official of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Wednesday.
“Sufficient antibodies will develop only after taking the second dose of the vaccine,” Dr Soha al-Bayat, head of Vaccination at MoPH, explained at an Instagram question and answer session.
"A person who has taken the first shot of vaccine can still be infected with Covid-19 before the second dose is taken as sufficient time is needed to develop antibodies," she stressed.
The clinical trial data for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine show that when both shots of the vaccine are taken, three weeks apart, it is about 95% effective.
“About 95% people who received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine have developed antibodies. Each person’s body responds different to vaccines and illnesses. Even if you don’t develop enough antibodies and get the infection, the effect will be mild,” she said.
Dr al-Bayat also pointed out that clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not include either pregnant or lactating women and children below the age of 16, and available data is so far insufficient to determine any risks to them by the vaccine.
“No pregnant women were included in the trial but no significant contra indications are shown at this stage. Technically speaking it should be safe but there is no scientific evidence,” she said, while ruling out any serious side effects caused by the vaccine.
“So far about 2mn people have received the vaccine in the US, more than a million in the UK and many others around the world including Qatar. Some have shown very modest side effects such as mild fever, headache, fatigue and soreness at the injection site and these are common with other vaccines,” pointed out Dr al-Bayat.
“When we receive the next batches of the Covid-19 vaccine, we will gradually include every category of the population. The vaccine is given free and to everyone regardless of their nationality,” said Dr al-Bayat.
Dr al-Bayat said that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine being given in the country can be effective for a minimum of four to five months according to initial clinical trials.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is new; it’s very difficult to say for how long it will be effective. But clinical trials show that it can be effective for a minimum of four to five months and hopefully it will be more. Follow up tests are being done with people who are vaccinated,” she added.
Qatar started Covid-19 vaccination drive on December 23. In the first phase of the campaign that lasts until January 31, people aged 70 and above as well as adults with chronic diseases are among the categories to be vaccinated.