Several laboratory and pharmaceutical companies are racing against time to come up with an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.
In fact, as of the writing of this article, more than 150 companies are testing their vaccines in different phases of clinical trials.
Fortunately, the past few weeks successfully revealed the clinical trials results of five vaccines:
In this article, we will tackle the different forms of COVID vaccines based on their mechanisms of action, efficacity, storage, and cost.
The different types of vaccines
Moderna produces an RNA vaccine that generates an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.
Here is how it works:
RNA vaccines are relatively new with a short record of success but an impressive use of our understanding of biology.
For SARS-CoV-2, lab experts will create an RNA strand of the virus and inject it into the bloodstream, which will be incorporated into our DNA by specific cells. Once this process is successful, the cells start synthesizing proteins using the viral RNA. Consequently, the immune system launches an inflammatory reaction against those specific proteins.
Dose of vaccine
According to reports, the Moderna vaccine requires two injections separated by four weeks.
Results from the III phase of clinical trials show that the vaccine’s effectiveness is around 95%, which is very impressive.
To maintain the structural integrity of the vaccine, it has to be stored in an environment of –20 Celsius. In this temperature, the vaccine remains effective for up to 6 months.
The cost for one vaccine injection is $33.
The vaccine produced with the collaboration of Pfizer and Biotech was the first one to finish phase III of the clinical trials, with a success rate of 95%.
Similar to the Moderna vaccine, Pfizer synthesizes an mRNA vaccine that pushes the cells to produce antigenic proteins, which eventually leads to immunity against the virus.
Dose of vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine requires two injections separated by three weeks.
Results from the III phase of clinical trials show that the vaccine’s effectiveness is around 95%.
To maintain the structural integrity of the vaccine, it has to be stored in an environment of –70 Celsius.
The cost for one vaccine injection is $20.
This vaccine is the result of a collaboration between AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The biotechnology used involves a viral vector, which works by the following mechanism:
During this process, scientists use another virus (e.g., Adenovirus) that gets modified in the lab to generate harmless immune reactions.
The caveat is incorporating SARS-CoV-2 genetic material into the DNA of the modified virus, which is then injected as a vaccine.
Once the modified virus infects healthy tissues, the cellular machinery starts producing proteins of the viral vector (Adenovirus) and SARS-CoV-2.
Examples of viral vectors:
Note that researchers choose the viral vector depending on the tissues it infects. For instance, SARS-CoV-2 and Adenovirus both target the upper and lower respiratory systems.
Dose of vaccine
The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two injections separated by three weeks.
Results from the III phase of clinical trials show that the vaccine’s effectiveness is around 62-90%.
The AstraZeneca vaccine maintains its structural integrity in regular fridge temperatures.
The cost for one vaccine injection is $3.
The mechanism incorporated in this vaccine is identical to the AstraZeneca product, involving a viral vector that guides the viral genetic material into our cells.
Dose of vaccine
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one unique injection.
The effectiveness results of the J&J vaccine are still not available due to ongoing research.
To maintain the structural integrity of the vaccine, it has to be stored in an environment of –20 Celsius, which allows it to last for up to 2 years.
The cost for one vaccine injection is $10.
Sanofi is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vaccines.
The company predicted to start mass production of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020; however, it recently came across the first setback.
Sanofi officials projected the production of 100 million injections of their vaccine by the end of 2020 and 1 billion doses by the end of 2021. Unfortunately, the disappointing results of the I and II phases of clinical trials are inevitably going to mess up this timeline.
So far, we do not have much information about the Sanofi vaccine.
Other forms of vaccines
While the companies listed above use the technology of RNA and viral vectors to produce vaccines, other forms are worth noting.
As the name implies, this vaccine is obtained from a virus that’s been killed to prevent any multiplication in the body. Once we complete this step, the virus gets injected into the patient to trigger an immune response, and eventually, protect against the virus.
Poliovirus, hepatitis A, rabies
Live attenuated vaccines
This vaccine is slightly more active, but researchers will remove the virulent properties from the virus to make it less aggressive and allow the immune system to produce a prompt response.
Measles, mumps, rubella
Subunit, or recombinant vaccines, use characteristic proteins found on the virus’s surface as an antigen. Once the immune system encounters these proteins, it will develop antibodies and cells specific to it, which get recruited if the patient catches the virus in the future.
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who should get vaccinated?
According to research, all individuals at risk of contracting the virus should receive the COVID vaccine. For instance, front-line workers (e.g., doctors, nurses, postal workers) are at greater risk of getting the infection.
However, if you have concurrent medical conditions that compromise your immune system (e.g., HIV, chronic steroid use), you may want to speak with your doctor first.
Is the COVID vaccine dangerous for pregnancy?
Due to the exceptionally rapid development of this vaccine, researchers are still unsure about the full extent of its effectiveness and side effects. For instance, we cannot tell for sure about the safety of the vaccine in pregnant women and the pediatric population.
However, the vast majority of candidates did not experience any adverse effects.
How safe is the vaccine?
As just mentioned, the vast majority of participants who received the vaccine reported no side effects aside from minor pain and swelling at the injection site.
If you had previous anaphylactic reactions to vaccines, it may be safer for you to avoid the COVID vaccine.
Does the current vaccine cover the new strains?
So far, we still don’t know whether the vaccine will be effective in preventing infections by new strains of the coronavirus.
In any case, immunity will be obtained through one or more of the following ways:
Will Quality Primary Care provide the vaccine for patients?
Similar to other clinics around the U.S., Dr. Suresh Malik and his team at Quality Primary Care applied to get the COVID vaccine. Once the vaccine is available, we will offer it to all interested patients. We are the leading Primary Care physician in Rockville Maryland.
Developing an effective vaccine for COVID-19 is vital to end the cycle of infection transmission and restoring our old way of living. New Bivalent vaccines are new tools we have at our disposal.
Today, the Pfizer vaccine is already being employed by the USA, UK, and other companies. Hopefully, the other forms of vaccines will catch up soon.
The goal of this article was to highlight the most prominent vaccines out there and their specific characteristics. If you still have any questions, concerns, or something that you want to add, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below. We are delighted to offer annual physicals by a board-certified physician. We perform digital EKG as well as take care of COPD, heart failure, Kidney failure, osteoarthritis, allergies, asthma, COVID counseling, Cholesterol management, and other ailments.