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COVID 19 Vaccine: A Review of The Top Vaccines

2020 is arguably the most challenging year for the world’s entirety in the post-World War 2 era. The disease caused by the coronavirus called ‘COVID-19’ is the most lingering of all the tragedies happening. The said virus outbreak reached pandemic status early this year. After a few weeks of lockdown, the race for a vaccine has never been this stressful and accelerated in these modern times. Within months of isolation and strict protocols, almost all pharmaceutical industries create the COVID 19 vaccine. They have the coordination of the countries from all over the world for distribution of the doses. So far, 3 collaborations have claimed to produce a highly effective vaccine based on their clinical trials.

Top 3 Vaccines for Covid 19

From the latest news updates, 3 collaborations are leading in creating the safest possible COVID 19 vaccine. They are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-Oxford University. The list of vaccines with high success rates may increase upon publishing of this writing.

Similar to how measles and polio vaccines work, these vaccines will give us immunity to COVID-19. Since COVID-19 is airborne and, testing kits can get so expensive. There is a massive challenge to figure out a solution in a short period. The main reason for the time crunch is simply to avoid the world economy from unrecoverable collapse.

There are virus outbreaks that prompt some philanthropists, like Bill Gates, to promote improvements in healthcare. That includes the quest for universal flu vaccines. However, no one really expected coronavirus to cause significant damage at an exponential rate in such a short time.

Usually, vaccines can take years to have a green light. Many have used all their technological and human resources to produce the best vaccine as quickly as possible. If these vaccines are not as good as they’ve claimed, it can negatively affect cost. So far, capitalism has not been an obstacle in terms of distribution.

Cost

Since private institutions make the vaccines, they are not definitely for free. Governments expand their resources or use any leverage possible from progressive countries to secure as many doses as they can. According to the news, AstraZeneca’s vaccine has a significantly smaller price than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

But according to AstraZeneca, they pledge not to concentrate on making a profit while the pandemic is ongoing. Pfizer’s vaccine can cost around $20 per dose. The price of Moderna’s vaccine is about $15 to $25 per dose, while AstraZeneca’s vaccine costs only $4.

Shelf-life

Many governments in the world are in contact with these top vaccine makers. Once the transactions are final, they will distribute the vaccines as soon as possible. However, the challenge lies in the storage of the doses of vaccines. It will also take time for the governments to distribute to their citizens.

Among the 3 vaccine makers, Pfizer’s vaccine has the most challenge in storage and distribution. It must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit for the next 30 days. Aside from that, the particular case needs dry ice, which is now a high demand.

On the other hand, it requires a standard freezer to store Moderna’s vaccine at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for a month. AstraZeneca’s vaccine also requires only a standard freezer, but the shelf life can last about 6 months.

Efficacy

Efficacy and effectiveness can be synonymous, but the two are not entirely similar. Efficacy refers to the ability to achieve the intended result in an ideal environment. On the other hand, actual events determine effectiveness.

The term efficacy is more appropriate to use in describing a COVID 19 vaccine’s quality. The public will have to test yet the vaccines in real-life situations or outside the clinical parameters.

Out of the 3 vaccines, 2 have an efficacy of above 90 percent. Pfizer’s vaccine has a 95 percent efficacy, and Moderna’s vaccine has a 94.1 percent efficacy. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s vaccine claimed to have 62 percent efficacy following their public announcement.

Later on, in a different testing regimen, they have achieved a 90 percent efficacy. The scrutiny is not due to having an average efficacy of 70 percent but on the validity of the information disclosed. According to scientists, people must not be critical of the efficacy percentage since the vaccine did clinical trials separately.

Pfizer-BioNTech

The COVID 19 vaccine Pfizer Canada ULC and BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH made is an mRNA-based vaccine. So far, their vaccines have the highest efficacy percentage, but they have the most critical requirements in storage and distribution. Pfizer’s vaccine may be the most expensive on the list, yet in comparison with other vaccines, it is relatively affordable.

Pfizer-BioNTech

How It Works

The mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid, the vaccine carries a portion of the coronavirus. The purpose is to provide our cells with the information needed for building immunity. Our cells will then make a copy of the protein from that vaccine.

Once it manages to so, it will disintegrate that said protein. As an automated defense mechanism, the body will make T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes to remind the cells how to fight once coronavirus enters the body.

How It’s Given

The COVID 19 vaccine will come in a 0.3-mL dose. For best results, 2 doses will be injected into the arm’s muscle, wherein the second dose comes after 21 days.

According to the studies, there are around 44,000 participants in the clinical trials. The vaccine is 95 percent effective during the testing. Only those who are 16 years old and older can be injected. There are no conclusive results for its effectiveness yet for individuals below that age.

Possible Side Effects

During the clinical trials, the participants’ side effects are body chills, tiredness, and feverish feeling. Note that these side effects are common in most mRNA-based vaccines.

If the public receives the vaccine, there can be mild side effects only. The severe side effect one can get might be an allergic reaction only.

Vaccine Safety After Authorization

Pfizer-BioNTech will conduct follow-up studies always, like all authorized medications. If the public avails the product, they must submit reports about adverse events to Health Canada. They plan to conduct more clinical trials for the next 2 years after the vaccine’s second dose is given.

Moderna

Moderna COVID 19 vaccine is also an mRNA-based vaccine. Moderna has been one of the pioneers of mRNA-based medicines. Therefore, there can be no doubt of the company’s ability to make an effective vaccine.

COVID 19 Vaccine

How It Works

Moderna’s vaccine has a similar operation to Pfizer’s vaccine since they are similar types. For an analogy, a coronavirus is a form of snake venom. The mRNA-based vaccine is the antidote made from the snake’s venom.

Another much simpler analogy is the ‘Cut’ function of the computer. You copy a specific file (replicated proteins from the original virus) and delete the original file from its origin folder (original virus).

How It’s Given

The COVID 19 vaccine will come in 2 doses of 0.5 ml. The interval between the first dosage and the second is 28 days or 4 weeks. Similar to Pfizer’s vaccine, age will be a factor in the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Possible Side Effects

So far, patients in their clinical trials have experienced only fatigue, headache, and mild body pain after the first injection. In regards to the severe side effects, there are no reports yet. However, you should be skeptical about all medicines because it will always have side effects, especially during the early stages of use.

Vaccine Safety After Authorization

The good thing about having a competition is that it brings the most from competitors. Moderna is a top competitor for the best vaccine for COVID-19. It feels reassuring knowing that a reputable pharmaceutical company is making significant progress and providing more doses.

The majority of the clinical trials of Moderna are open to the public. It will continue conducting follow-ups to their trials and plans to launch 3 more studies, including the vaccine’s effects on pregnant women.

AstraZeneca-Oxford University

AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, and the University of Oxford, are partners in developing their own vaccine. This AstraZeneca COVID 19 vaccine is called ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19‘ or ‘AZD1222‘. So far, they have shown to be effective in the trials but not as high compared to Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

COVID 19 Vaccine

How It Works

If Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA-based vaccines, then Astrazeneca’s vaccine is different. It utilizes the virus’s genetic information so that the body’s cells will create a spike protein called ‘adenovirus.’ Then, the adenovirus will counter the original virus’s effects. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is a vector vaccine type.

Instead of using a portion of the coronavirus for genetic information, it utilizes a different virus but similar genetic material to the coronavirus. For a straightforward analogy, it is like employing a different warrior’s services but injected with the opponent’s mindset and skills to defeat the said opponent.

How It’s Given

The said COVID 19 vaccine would come in 2 doses, with the first and second dose having a 28-day interval. During its trial period, the administering of full doses achieves a 62-percent efficacy.

However, on a separate trial, when the first dose is only half while the second is a full dose, there is a 90-percent efficacy. This leads the researchers to conclude that the dosage is administering when the results show 90 percent efficacy is preferable.

Possible Side Effects

During the clinical trials, there are reports about a few adverse events. One serious incident is where a patient experiences transverse myelitis that affects the spinal cord negatively. Although there is an investigation for the case, the company ruled out the situation as inconclusive since there is insufficient evidence linking the reported adverse event to the vaccine.

Vaccine Safety After Authorization

AstraZeneca will distribute the vaccine more likely to countries outside the US. There are questions raised by skeptics due to the efficacy and the reported adverse events on the trials. However, still, it is probably the best product next to Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

There is safety monitoring continuously conducted. Aside from that, it is the most practical vaccine available out there. The manufacturers have no intention of obtaining profits, and the vaccine price is very affordable.

Vaccine Testing And The Approval Process

Vaccine Development

In developing new vaccines, especially the COVID 19 vaccine, there is a general cycle. The stages are:

  • Exploratory stage
  • Pre-clinical stage
  • Clinical development
  • Regulatory review and approval
  • Manufacturing
  • Quality control

In clinical development, there are 3 phases in the process. ‘Phase 1’ focuses on a small group. If it achieved the intended results, ‘Phase 2’ can push through. Here, the company experiments with the vaccine with another group of people of the same health parameters.

If it attains progress, the company will conduct ‘Phase 3’, wherein thousands of people experimented with the vaccine. All qualified vaccines must clear Phase 3 of the clinical development stage. There is also a ‘Phase 4’ as a follow-up trial after the approval of the vaccine.

Vaccine Approval

In approving and licensing the vaccine, the food and drug agencies of the progressive countries, such as the US FDA, will serve as the basis. Each vaccine will undergo a multi-process approval. The stages are the following:

  • Application for an investigational newly-developed drug
  • Pre-licensure clinical trials for the vaccine
  • A Biologics License Application, or BLA
  • Manufacturing facility’s inspection
  • Presentation of all findings to the governing body
  • Labeling of the usability of the product

After the approval, the governing body will continue to monitor the manufacturer’s products. Suppose there are unfavorable effects after the vaccine. In that case, there will be confirmation about the approval process first before putting the manufacturer in the hot seat.

There will also be other governing bodies monitoring the side effects. For more updates, you can refer to COVID 19 vaccine tracker websites and articles.

The Bottom Line

Recently, after a few weeks of distributing the COVID 19 vaccines in progressive countries, there is a report about a mutated strain of the virus in the UK. There might be travel bans are, and possibly lockdowns will resume again.

Although it may sound harsh, the mutated version will test the vaccine’s actual effectiveness if it manages to spread. Hopefully, similar to the containment of measles, these vaccines can hold up and render the coronavirus extinct and non-fatal.

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James Trotta
I'm a blogger and also a news editor. I am obviously enthusiastic about worldwide news, including social media news. I've been following news trends and almost trying to fill you in with the stuff you're keen on.

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