on Sundays, the TechWorld brings together the top health news of the week in one place.
This week, we’re going to talk about the effectiveness of masks and vaccines against covid-19, the confusion generated by the federal government regarding the immunization of adolescents and the batches of CoronaVac vaccine collected by Anvisa.
Bolsonaro in New York, masks and vaccines
On Tuesday (21) President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) made the opening speech at the 76th General Assembly of the UN (United Nations), in New York. After describing a country very different from what most Brazilians have seen in recent months, with environmental devastation and alarming price increases, the subject that took up the news was the sequence of covid-19 cases in the team brought by the government to the United States to participate in the event.
UN General Assembly Hall, New York (credits: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock)
Among the two registered cases of the disease is that of the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga. After the diagnosis of Queiroga, who claims to have taken the vaccine against covid-19, the president intensified attacks on immunizers raising doubts about the effectiveness of the substance – he says he has not taken any vaccine against the disease.
The truth is that no vaccine promises 100% effectiveness, and even people with a full vaccination can still be infected with SARS-CoV-2. Recent data, however, show that vaccinees who get the disease are much less likely to develop a severe form or die from the virus — the biggest proof of this is the dramatic drop in the number of hospitalizations and deaths caused by the disease after the start of vaccination. In all world.
The same goes for masks. Scientific knowledge accumulated over more than 100 years allows us to safely say that facial protection is a physical barrier capable of blocking part of the pathogens that are transported by expelled or inhaled saliva. But no available mask can filter out viruses and bacteria in their entirety. And remember that masks pose no health risk when used correctly.
People wear masks in line for vaccination against covid-19 in São Paulo (credits: Nelson Antoine/Shutterstock)
After all, can teenagers get the vaccine?
Yes, but actions by the Ministry of Health in recent days have left many parents and young people insecure.
The confusion began on September 16, when the Ministry of Health advised the suspension of vaccination for adolescents without comorbidities. Soon after, respected entities in the health area, such as the National Health Council (CNS) and the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI) published statements expressing a divergent position from the ministry, that is, defending the continuation of vaccination for the age group.
The benefits of vaccinating adolescents substantially outweigh the risks. The incidence of serious adverse events, such as myocarditis and/or pericarditis, is 16/1,000,000 people who receive two doses of the vaccine. COVID-19 itself can cause relevant cardiac damage, both in adults and adolescents, with a higher frequency (Note from the Brazilian Society of Infectology published on September 17)
The death of a 16-year-old teenager after receiving the vaccine would have motivated the action of the ministry, but the conclusion of the investigation says that the death is not related to the immunizing agent from Pfizer/BioNTech (the only one released for use in this age group in the country).
On Wednesday (22) the Ministry of Health backtracked and started to recommend the vaccination of teenagers again.
CoronaVac batches collected
Vials of CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Chinese Sinovac (credits: PhotobyTawat/Shutterstock)
On Wednesday (22), Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) decided to collect batches of CoronaVac vaccine that were banned. There are more than 12 million doses of the immunizing agent that can no longer be used after the agency found that the data presented by the laboratory responsible for the manufacture of the substance (Sinovac) do not prove the filling of the immunizing agent under satisfactory conditions of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP ).
Find out more about what will happen to those who have already received doses of one of these batches here.