After almost a year of lockdowns or some form of stay-at-home orders imposed by governments practically everywhere to try to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus which resulted in some creative activities to keep ourselves healthy and sane, we have some good back-to-back news that give us great hope going into 2021.
A couple of COVID-19 vaccines which are over 95% effective in trials have now been approved by the FDA and are being distributed to some of the most vulnerable people in our populations first.
There are more vaccines being developed for COVID-19 around the world, with a couple more close to approval.
Here are the 4 COVID-19 vaccines compared:
Pfizer and Moderna
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology, instead of the traditional method of using a weakened version of the real virus like the highly successful polio and measles vaccines.
The COVID-19 virus’s “coat” is made by its mRNA. So if we know exactly what COVID-19’s mRNA structure is, the mRNA can be replicated in the lab in large amounts quickly.
This copy of the COVID-19’s mRNA alone (instead of the entire weakened COVID-19 virus) is then injected into the body. Our body’s immune system then eats it up, and then the mRNA tells it to produce the COVID-19 “coat”.
The COVID-19 “coat” which is now running through our body will then educate our immune system to create both antibodies and immune system killer cells to kill the real COVID-19 virus if it enters our system.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are over 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in thousands of volunteer subjects exposed to the virus.
Both Pfizer and Moderna requires 2 shots spaced a few weeks apart.
Pfizer requires temperatures of -70 degrees C/-94 degrees F to store.
Moderna requires temperatures of -20 degrees C/-4 degrees F to store.
mRNA vaccines need to be stored as such cold temperatures because mRNA is easily destroyed.
Here’s how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines stack up:
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson
Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines do not use mRNA technology.
Instead, they both use a harmless adenovirus, which is then modified in the lab to include Sars-Cov-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
This modified adenovirus is then injected into our body, which then primes our immune system against future COVID-19 infections.
We need to get 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for protection.
We need only 1 dose with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although they are testing a 2-dose version as well.
The AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness is over 90% if a lower first dose is given followed by a full second dose.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s effectiveness data could start coming in January 2021.
Both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be stored at between 2 – 8 degrees C/35.6 – 46.4 degrees F.
COVID-19 Vaccines Compared: Which One Will Be The Most Used?
mRNA vaccines have a major disadvantage in needing ultra-low storage temperatures, but they are easier to manufacture in large quantities.
Modified adenovirus vaccines are cheaper and store at much higher temperatures which make them easier to be distributed widely.
However, much will depend on the deals governments around the world have made with the vaccine makers and how fast the makers can make and distribute them.
We will be well into 2021 and 2022 before a large enough population would have been vaccinated for us to stop COVID-19’s continuous devastation on our economies, health and sanity.
Despite what seems like another few months of staying at home, it’s worth knowing that the COVID-19 vaccines are the fastest vaccines we have ever developed for any disease in history.
The experience gained in developing vaccines this quickly is invaluable in our next big fight battle against another life-threatening virus in the future.