While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews the dates of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates for emergency approval, CNN’s chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta important things to know about how the process works.

How does the vaccine approval process work?

So far, all data on the vaccine’s effectiveness has come from the companies that make it. Now, FDA scientists will review this data to consider the intricacies of protecting these vaccines.

“Are there certain groups of people who do better or worse with this vaccine? Do we have insight into the shelf life? We know it might prevent disease, but does it also prevent infection? Is it preventing transmission? These are all open questions and … that’s what they’re focusing on, ”explains Gupta.

A vaccine can prevent me from getting sick, but can it also prevent me from being a carrier?

Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine candidates have shown high effectiveness in preventing Covid-19. However, the data has not yet shown whether the vaccines prevent people from becoming infected or from transmitting the disease. “So far we can’t say for sure,” says Gupta.

If someone has already had Covid-19, should they still take the vaccine?

Scientists say vaccinated immunity should last longer than naturally acquired immunity, Gupta reports. The immunity you get from contracting Covid-19 will last for a period, but the type of vaccine should ensure longer immunity. It is unclear how long this could take. Pfizer and Moderna have two doses. You prepare the immune system, then the second shot strengthens it. This makes it a better option for gaining immunity, Gupta adds.

Could the new technology used to make these vaccines cause healthy cells to mutate or later cause cancer?

It does not get into the nucleus of the human cell, where it would disrupt the DNA. So there’s no evidence that it would cause mutations, nor is there any evidence that it would actually cause infection, Gupta says.

“You don’t give the virus, you give the genetic sequence for part of the virus. So somebody can’t get infected with it either, ”he added. “They’re going to need long-term studies, but at least two months of data seem to show they were safe.”

Can people decide which vaccine to take?

At first there won’t be a lot of choice. Pfizer’s vaccine requires very specialized cold storage so it may be the only one you can take if you live in a community where this storage facility is available. Moderna can potentially go to smaller towns and smaller institutions such as even nursing homes.

“You are expected to be able to apply for the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, by January [Emergency Use Authorization,]Said Gupta. If this turns into an annual shot, people may have the option to choose.

Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions about the coronavirus vaccine:

You can find more answers to all of your coronavirus questions at cnn.com/coronavirusanswers. If you have specific questions about the vaccine, submit them here. We will try to give you some answers.


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