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22.78°/21.11°Moderate Rain

2021-04-05 - 13:59:45  COMMUNITY | 

DR. CARIKA WELDON SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON COVID VACCINE VS SPIKE IN POSITIVE CASES


During this sharp increase in positive Coronavirus cases in Bermuda, biochemist Dr. Carika Weldon wants to take the opportunity once again to remind the public that vaccines against this virus are very different from vaccines against the flu, which is what people might be more familiar with.

“ This [vaccine] is different because it does not give people a live virus, or even a weakened virus; it gives them instructions to create one specific piece of the virus,” Dr. Weldon said. “That part is key to preventing people from getting COVID from the vaccine.”

According to her, putting only a piece of a virus into a vaccine is certainly nothing new and has been happening for some years. The only difference with the Pfizer-Moderna vaccine, one of the available vaccines used against COVID-19, is that Pfizer-Moderna sends mRNA instruction to the body, which was never done before.

Because such a small piece of the virus is in the vaccines, it is impossible to contract the Coronavirus simply by getting the vaccine.
“ [Contracting COVID from these vaccines] is like trying to drive a car with only a steering wheel,” Dr. Weldon said.

Another thing that she wanted to remind people is that the tests do not pick up the Coronavirus from someone who got vaccinated, because two completely different genes are looked at and targeted.
“ We actually target the E Gene in our tests and the vaccines are giving instructions for the S Gene . . . it’s like us looking along the viral genome in St. George’s during the test and the vaccine is giving you the part of the virus that’s from Somerset,” she said.

As of Wednesday March 31, 50 persons who received at last one dose of the vaccine were infected with the virus. Out of those 50, Dr. Weldon could probably count on one hand who had been fully immunized; meaning they received both doses plus two weeks’ time passing.

According to Dr. Weldon, this proves that immunization is working, even if it may not be 100 percent at this time.
“ [The vaccine] was never said to offer 100 percent immunity,” she said. “[The vaccine’s job] is to reduce the chance of getting sick . . . it will stop people from getting hospitalized, I cannot stress that enough.”

WHAT LED TO 630 CURRENTLY ACTIVE CASES AND INCREASED HOSPITALIZATIONS

 Dr. Weldon believes that the first thing that led to the over 600 currently active COVID cases was people developing COVID fatigue and letting their guard down as a result.

“ As a community, those of us who have not travelled, in all honesty, have not been diligent when it comes to following Government’s guidelines and trying to keep everyone safe,” she said.

The other thing that led to the huge influx of active cases is the type of strain that has been spreading.

“If one person were positive back in December, the amount of their close contacts who were positive were a lot less than what we’re seeing now,” Dr. Weldon said. “The virus is a lot quicker than it was last time, so we have to test, we have to know who are close contacts and we have to try and stop the transmission,” she said.

 As of Sunday April 4, “Even an infant who is less than a year old is infected with the virus. This particular strain is attacking all ages of our community young, middle age and elderly persons. People of Bermuda wear your mask and stay in your bubble, this virus is extremely serious.”

Dr. Weldon and her lab team received 2,150 test samples on Saturday April 3. This marks a new one-day record for most samples in Bermuda. She was actually expecting slightly more positive results from yesterday’s samples than were actually discovered. This means that the numbers are going down, albeit slowly.

“We have to continue to test at this current pace and make sure that we test everyone so that we have that surety that it’s definitely coming down and it’s not just due to lack of testing,” she said.

FALSE POSITIVE RESULTS DO NOT EXIST

Because so many people do not have any symptoms, they may think that they received a false positive. This cannot be the case, as when Dr. Weldon and her lab staff conduct a PCR test, four controls are put in place to prevent any false positive results from coming through. Firstly, the samples are burst open and water is run through each one. In order for it to be negative, the sample has to be clear.
During the positive and negative control tests, water is once again run through the samples to ensure that nothing was contaminated.

In the final step, each sample must have its internal control passed, as sometimes the samples fail and have to be run through again.
“The only way that our lab would receive a false positive would be if there was another positive sample and it got contaminated,” Dr. Weldon said.
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