The development of a vaccine is usually a long and complex process that takes years. But with the coronavirus, scientists and researchers have been working on a handful of vaccines in a short time as possible. Several vaccines have been authorized around the globe; many more remain in development. Read on to keep up with the latest coronavirus news and updates.
In this article:
- Coronavirus Vaccine Recap of the Recent Events
- Key Facts About the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccines
- Where Do We Go From Here?
COVID-19 Vaccines Key Facts, Efficacy, and Availability
Coronavirus Vaccine Recap of the Recent Events
- As of January 14, 2021, 11,148,991 people in the US have received the first dose of the covid vaccine with a total of 30,628,175 distributed dosage.
- Three vaccines are currently available. These are the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
- The UK is the first country to roll out the Pfizer vaccine on December 2, 2020.
- On December 11, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration issued the emergency authorization, which allows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be distributed in the US.
- A new covid-19 variant was first detected in September 2020 in the Uk and has now spread in numerous countries.
Key Facts About the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccines
The Comirnaty vaccine is the brand name for the tozinameran developed by the New York-based Pfizer and the German company BioNTech (thus, it is commonly known as the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine).
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses with three weeks in between through muscular injection. Pfizer and BioNTech claim their vaccine is 95% effective for preventing coronavirus disease in people aged 16 years and older.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at -70 degrees celsius transported to freezer fams using dry ice to last up to 6 months.
The Moderna vaccine is made by the Boston-based company Moderna. It is the second coronavirus vaccine that received FDA authorization on December 18, a week after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s approval.
Moderna claims their vaccine is about 95% effective against coronavirus. The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses with four weeks in between through muscular injection. The said vaccines can be stored for 30 days in the refrigerator and can last up to 6 months at –4°F (–20°C).
Both the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are a type of mRNA vaccines. RNA vaccines are composed of tiny parts of the virus’s genetic code surrounded by fat. The body recognizes this is happening and makes antibodies and t cells to fight the virus off.
These vaccines contain genetic code for constructing a spike or coronavirus protein. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines cause the cells to make spike proteins, which then get delivered into the body and elicit immune system response. This process makes the body prepared next time it encounters the virus.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, a Swedish company. It is also called AZD1222 or Covishield in India.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 60% to 90% effective against coronavirus. It is administered in two doses with four weeks in between through muscular injection. Oxford vaccine can be stored in a fridge 3-8°C and is cheaper to move around.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are mRNA-based, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a type of viral vector-based vaccines. Viral vector vaccines do not contain antigens but use the body’s cells to produce them. Manufacturers do this using an altered virus to deliver genetic code for the antigen to produce antibodies into human cells. An example of a viral vector vaccine is the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine against Ebola.
In the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, a version of the common cold virus that used to infect chimpanzees was altered, so it does not affect humans. A bit of the genetic code of coronavirus is then added to the altered virus. When these prototypes are inside the body, they start eliciting the coronavirus’ spike protein. The immune system recognizes this and responds.
The vaccine copies what happens during natural infection with specific pathogens by infecting cells and instructing them to produce large amounts of antigen. This mechanism triggers a strong cellular immune response by T cells and the antibodies production by B cells.
Where Do We Go From Here?
These vaccines will all have significant roles in preventing the coronavirus. Viruses change through mutation. At present, there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 vaccines would not protect against the new virus variants.
According to their press release, Pfizer and BioNTech anticipate producing up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. A total of 20 vaccines have reached the final stages of clinical trials out of 68 vaccines researchers are testing on humans. Meanwhile, at least 90 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals.
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