Disease & Vaccine Information

SARS-CoV-2 Virus & COVID-19 Quick Facts

Updated June 14, 2022


covid-19

SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19

  • SARS-CoV-2 is one strain (type) of coronavirus that is part of a large family of enveloped RNA viruses that can infect mammals and birds.  Coronaviruses are named for their crown-like spiked surfaces and cause generally mild respiratory symptoms like the common cold in humans. 
  • A few coronavirus strains can cause very severe respiratory disease with significant mortality, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that emerged in China in 2002-2003  and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.  SARS-CoV-2, which was identified in China in late 2019  and declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020,    has a much lower mortality rate than SARS or MERS. 
  • People with SARS-CoV-2 infections can be asymptomatic  or exhibit a constellation of mild or severe illness symptoms known as COVID-19, which include fever; chills; cough; shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue; muscle, joint or body aches; rash; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.  Multiple studies have found that individuals who recover from COVID-19 illness have long-term immunity and rarely suffer a second COVID-19 infection. Multiple studies have found that individuals who recover from COVID-19 illness have long-term immunity and rarely suffer a second COVID-19 infection.        
  • Complications of COVID-19 disease include pneumonia; acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); acute kidney, liver, and heart failure or damage; septic shock; disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC); rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown); chronic fatigue syndrome; blood clots and death. 
  • Serious complications of COVID-19 disease may be caused by a hyperactive immune response known as a cytokine storm, which occur when an infection triggers the immune system to flood the bloodstream with inflammatory proteins (cytokines) that can damage organs and kill tissue.  In some young children and adolescents, SARS-CoV-2 infections may trigger multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).   
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020 about 94 percent of COVID-19 related-deaths occurred in persons over age 65 and individuals with underlying poor health conditions. This means that only about 6 percent of COVID-19 related-deaths involved persons who did not have any pre-existing health conditions or in persons under the age of 65.  Among those the CDC consider to be at highest risk for severe COVID-19 disease are the immunocompromised; pregnant women; individuals with chronic heart, lung or kidney disease; the obese; type 2 diabetics; and individuals with cancer, Down’s syndrome, sickle cell disease and thalassemia. There are other chronic health conditions that might increase risks for severe COVID-19 disease, including asthma, high blood pressure, dementia  and neurologic conditions, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and type 1 diabetes. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

  • On Mar. 10, 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) invoked the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, after declaring that the COVID-19 pandemic was a public health emergency. As a result, manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are considered public health emergency “countermeasures”. The PREP Act shields manufacturers and vaccine providers from liability and vaccine injury compensation claims will be processed by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).     
  • On August 23, 2021 the FDA licensed and granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status to Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, an mRNA vaccine developed BioNTech, for use in persons 16 years of age and older.  The FDA also stated that use of Comirnaty and the experimental Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are interchangeable due to having the same formulation.   Following FDA approval, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended use of the 2-dose Comirnaty vaccine series in persons 16 years of age and older.  The vaccine remains authorized under EUA for persons as young as 12 years of age.  The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech was initially granted an EUA in December 2020 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  
  • The FDA and CDC have also authorized use of a 10-mcg dose of Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine in children 5 through 11 years of age under EUA, to be administered in a two-dose series, three weeks apart.     In January 2022, the CDC and FDA authorized use of a third dose for children who are immunocompromised, to be given at least 28 days following the second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 dose.    
  • A second mRNA COVID-19, Spikevax, a vaccine developed by Moderna with NIAID, was licensed and granted an EUA on January 31, 2022 for use in adults 18 and older.   The CDC’s ACIP voted to recommend use of this vaccine in all persons 18 years and older on February 4, 2022.  
  • In February 2021, Janssen Biotech, Inc. of Johnson & Johnson, was granted an EUA by the FDA for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which uses a human adenovirus vector      rather than mRNA technology for persons 18 and older.  On April 13, 2021, the FDA and CDC paused use of the vaccine after serious blood clots with low blood platelets were reported in women between the ages of 18 and 49, a condition now referred to as Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia (TTS).   Ten days later, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to resume use of the vaccine despite the known risks.     On December 16, 2021, ACIP voted to give a preferential recommendation to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine due to the risk of TTS.   The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine remains available for use in the U.S. but is recommended only when a person is unable to or unwilling to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, or when mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not available.  
  • As of May 1, 2022, booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the FDA and recommended for all persons 12 years of age and older. Persons 50 years of age and older may also choose to receive a second booster dose, to be given at least four months following receipt of the first booster dose. Individuals who are immunocompromised are recommended to receive a 3-dose primary series of mRNA vaccine, followed by a booster dose at least three months after the third vaccine dose. A second booster dose may also be given at least four months after the first booster dose.   The FDA and CDC have authorized the mixing of vaccine types for all persons 18 years and older who are receiving booster doses   despite limited safety or efficacy data to support the use of a mixed dose schedule.  
  • An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) granted by the FDA to pharmaceutical corporations for distribution of experimental COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. does not mean that the agency has evaluated all safety and efficacy data and officially approved licensure of the vaccine. The EUA authorizes manufacturers to release an experimental vaccine for voluntary use and the FDA states that vaccine recipients must “have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine.” 
  • As of October 10, 2021, health officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH) have warned that, while there is evidence that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 disease, there is a lack of evidence that the vaccines are effective in preventing infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.        The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine was also granted an EUA based on efficacy data that demonstrated evidence for protection against symptomatic COVID-19 disease rather than protection against infection and transmission of the new coronavirus. 
  • As of the October 8, 2021 release of data from CDC, there have been 798,636 reports of adverse events following vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines submitted to the federal vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS), which noted 117,399 serious adverse events; 18,238 life-threatening events; 79,669 hospitalizations; and 16,766 deaths. Reported adverse events have also included pain at the injection site; fatigue; anaphylaxis; headache; muscle and joint pain; fever; chills;  swollen lymph nodes; nausea and vomiting;  immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) (low blood platelets);    Bell’s Palsy;  cardiac arrest; neurological dysfunction; rheumatoid arthritis; blood clots; heart, kidney and liver failure;  anaphylaxis; myocarditis and pericarditis;   Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)  and death.      Click for most recent CDC data release.
  • The CDC states that contraindications to receiving COVID-19 vaccines include (1) a history of severe allergic reaction to a previous vaccine dose or any of its ingredients; (2) a history of an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose or to any of its ingredients. A  polyethylene glycol (PEG) allergy is considered a contraindication to mRNA vaccines, while a polysorbate allergy is considered a contraindication to Janssen vaccine. The CDC states that a person with a contraindication to mRNA vaccination may be able to receive the Janssen vaccine and vice versa provided that precautions are taken. This includes ensuring that the vaccine is administered by a healthcare provider who is equipped to manage severe allergic reactions. 
  • On Mar. 10, 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) invoked the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, after declaring that the COVID-19 pandemic was a public health emergency. As a result, manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are considered public health emergency “countermeasures”. The PREP Act shields manufacturers and vaccine providers from liability and vaccine injury compensation claims will be processed by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).     


Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)            

CDC – Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

National Institutes of Health – NIH

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients

Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more.

Search for Vaccine Reactions

NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts examines symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, places, and more. 

Reporting a Vaccine Reaction

Since 1982, the NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is the law. If your doctor will not report a reaction, you have the right to report a suspected vaccine reaction to VAERS. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about covid-19 and the covid-19 vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

 

Updated October 20, 2021


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