December marked the start of the UK's Covid-19 vaccine rollout - a moment which gave us hope at the end of a year unlike any other.
We continue to be in awe of our creators, and inspired by the many doctors and scientists using our platform to educate and answer important questions from our community about a range of topics, including vaccines.
Among those is Dr. Anna Blakney, a bioengineer at the frontline of Covid-19 vaccine development at Imperial College London and part of the incredible #TeamHalo. Last Friday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hosted a special TikTok LIVE Q&A with Dr. Blakney to address some of the concerns about COVID-19 and the vaccine, to find out how it works, and reflect on how important the vaccine is in the fight against the virus.
In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:
• How it works - Discussing how a vaccine works was first on the agenda, with Dr. Blakney explaining how the vaccine trains your immune system to recognise a virus and develop specific antibodies which help the body to fight off infection as soon as it is recognised.
• How it was developed - Dr. Blakney discussed how scientists were able to use research based on specific similarities to previous viruses in order to produce a Covid-19 vaccine so quickly, alongside an unprecedented commitment to a shared goal from the entire medical and scientific community.
• Safety - Responding to questions around the safety of the vaccine, Dr. Blakney shared reassurance that all vaccines must go through the same rigorous clinical trials to test safety and efficacy before they are given the green light by regulators. She noted that a huge 40,000 people took part in the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial before it was approved.
• Efficacy against new strains - With concerns surrounding a mutation of the virus in some parts of the UK, the Mayor asked Dr. Blakney about whether a Covid-19 vaccine would protect us against new strains of the coronavirus. "It's something we're constantly monitoring," Dr. Blakney reassured, adding that new RNA vaccines like Pfizer and BioNTech's are simple to tweak and develop in a matter of weeks.
• Why it is so important - Not only is a vaccine crucial to limiting the spread of the virus and reducing the number of people becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19, but Dr. Blakney and the Mayor talked about the importance of 60 - 70% of the population having the vaccine in order for us to return to some form of normal life in the coming months. They also talked about the importance of following the public health rules whilst the vaccine is being rolled out to protect our most vulnerable from Covid-19.
Read more about how #TeamHalo health heroes like Dr. Blakney are helping our community stay safe and informed during these difficult times.
For more information about how TikTok is tackling vaccine misinformation, click here.