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COVID-19 Information Line: 201-227-6096 - 8AM-6PM (M-F)

Research and Covid-19 Vaccines and Antibodies

  • Holy Name Medical Center is at the forefront of research, treatment and community outreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Synthetic, manufactured antibodies and vaccines against COVID-19 are about to transform the pandemic. We will enter a new phase because we are beginning to give highly effective direct antiviral therapy to patients who meet defined criteria. These antiviral therapies prevent hospitalization and complications.

  • There are nine vaccines that are currently in the late stages of clinical trials, research studies that involve human subjects. The efficacy (effectiveness) of the leading two (Pfizer and Moderna) are in the range of 95% to prevent symptomatic infection.

    This is outstanding news. The other issue that is being studied is the safety of the vaccines, because rare side effects may not become noticeable until many people receive the vaccines and side effects begin to be apparent. Currently, about 80,000 people have received one of the two leading vaccines without permanent side effects. About 3% have experienced headaches or fatigue. This is expected because when you receive a vaccine, it activates the immune system. This is what the vaccine is designed to do.

  • There are several ways vaccines work.

    • The two leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates are made of a new technology called messenger RNA. Persons receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not be injected with COVID-19 itself. Instead, this RNA messenger causes human muscle cells to make an important protein called a spike protein from the surface of the virus. This protein acts upon the genes on the surface of the muscle cell. The immune system ramps up and stores this information for the future.

      When an individual is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, the immune system reaction begins. A second mechanism attaches the spike protein to the surface of a harmless non-COVID virus. The person’s immune system responds to the spike protein, which now provides protection against COVID-19.
    • The oldest vaccination method is to inject a simple modified protein (in this case, again the spike) to generate immunity. This type of vaccine has been used for more than 150 years.

      Holy Name Medical Center will soon begin testing a protein vaccine made by Sanofi Pasteur. We will also receive limited supplies of other vaccines against COVID-19 from government purchases as they become available. Information on vaccine safety is gathered continuously in order to improve the confidence of experts, providers and the public.
  • Can you imagine being able to return to cherished activities? As difficult as it may be, in order to do this, we must be patient and continue to practice public health safety guidelines until late spring of 2021 or early summer.

    Let’s all settle in and enjoy the peacefulness of the winter, as they do in cold European countries and way up north in Canada. We can still enjoy reading, movies, exercising alone, taking winter nature walks, and virtual sharing and visits. How about taking up a new craft, trying a new flavor of coffee or tea, or simply enjoying a roaring fire in your home?

    We still must social distance, wear masks, practice hand hygiene, and continue disinfecting our surfaces for another season or two.

    Someday, these vaccines will transform the COVID-19 pandemic into a low-level nuisance. Holy Name is here for you, with testing, treating, and prevention – promising you new tools as soon as they become available.