Report on October Speaker: – Dr David Docherty, “How Vaccines work”

On Friday October 1, our speaker was Dr David Docherty, Professor Emeritus University of Victoria, presenting on “How COVID-19 Vaccines work”.

Some of the most enjoyable reasons for being a member of Probus is the variety of subjects presented each month by our speakers.  Some topics are just fun (handwriting). Others, entertaining (tulips). Others unfold often touching human interest stories (the Williams’ tale of sailing the Atlantic – twice), while others focus on ‘current events’ (restauranteurs’ response to COVID). Others are informative forays into subjects that many of us only know from the headlines of newspapers or news-feeds (micro-plastics in the ocean). Seldom do we have a presenter who speaks to one of the most critical and urgent issues in our time – in this case, COVID-19 vaccinations.

On October 1, Dr. David Docherty kept us spell-bound as he effectively delivered a clear, understandable and fascinating presentation on this most difficult and complicated subject.

David laid the foundation by providing an overview of the Corona (SARS-CoV2) virus, so small (just 1200 nanometers) that it would take at least 2000 to cover the head of a pin. Armed with that knowledge, we learned not only how genetically-engineered mRNA and DNA vaccines work, but how they provide longer-term immunity (not just the result of antibodies, it turns out). Even as the information unfolded, it became acutely clear that washing hands, masking, and to a lesser extent using gloves or other prophylactic methods are effective ways of reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

We learned why it takes four or five days for the body to detect and react to the virus; why we should anticipate masking and washing hands for many months  ̶  maybe years  ̶  after most of the population is double-vaccinated; why vaccination-boosters will likely be employed for only a very small segment of society.  We even learned the real meaning of the term ‘efficacy’, and how the efficacy of a vaccine is determined. Apparently, it is not quite as simple as some of us thought.  

Dr. Docherty ended on an upbeat note ̶ that the knowledge about vaccinations acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a game-changer. Scientists should be able to identify the genome of any future strain of virus and quickly replicate it so that the immune system of someone infected will be activated.

Not surprisingly, the question-and-answer period was lively.

David kindly provided the North West Bay Chapter with a copy of his slides and a short, 3-page article.

You’ll find his presentation slides here

To read his 3-page article, click here.

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