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How were the COVID-19 vaccines designed? Expert explains changes we could see in coming months

Dr. Lamb says, “It is very likely that we’re going to see guidance change... And we should be very comfortable with that. That is a natural part of learning more..."

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — As vaccines continue to rollout, more updates are coming out. People have questions about the change in guidance and what kind of protection the vaccines actually offer. 

Our team sat with expert, Dr. Neil Lamb, to get some answers. 

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People generally think of vaccines as shots that keep us from being infected by certain disease. Is that the case with this first round of coronavirus vaccines? We asked an expert what the shots are actually designed to do. 

Dr. Neil Lamb is the Vice President of Educational Outreach with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Dr. Lamb says, “The current crop of vaccines are really designed to generate an immune response in our body that keeps us from getting significantly sick if we get the virus. So, it’s designed to keep us from getting severe COVID-19 and keep us out of the hospital and off of ventilators.” 

Dr. Lamb tells our reporter these vaccines weren’t technically designed to prevent you from being infected by coronavirus. They were designed to reduce the severity of the impact COVID-19 has on your body to save more lives. But, the data that’s starting to be collected is showing some promising results that that might not be the only benefit. Dr. Lamb tells us that data determining whether or not the vaccine prevents you from being infected wasn't collected as the main focus of most studies. He explains, “...That was outside the bounds of the initial clinical trials. But, we’re beginning to get evidence that says ‘Yep. These vaccines not only do a good job at keeping us from getting sick. But, they will also prevent us from being infectious. That’s the data we’re just starting to see. I think we’re going to see more of that over the next several weeks and I expect we’re going to find that they are also protecting us-- at some level against infectiousness as well as getting seriously sick. And that is great news.” 

We’ve seen some changes in requirements for the Pfizer vaccine storage. Dr. Lamb says, “It is very likely that we’re going to see guidance change, just like we’ve seen guidance change over the last several months. And we should be very comfortable with that. That is a natural part of learning more about something.” 

Dr. Lamb says we could see even bigger changes in the guidance on masking and social distancing after you’re vaccinated as more research surfaces. He tells our reporter, “We are just starting to begin to see that guidance begin to shift or at least hint that it is going to shit. I think over the next few weeks that is going to change. At the moment though, we still need a little bit more data. 

Dr. Lamb explains the vaccine's ability to reduce infectiousness and more with his video series Beyond the Blog “Sharable Science”. You can find the link to those videos HERE

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