COVID-19 vaccines to look out for: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and more
It's been close to a year since we first heard of the pneumonia-like virus spreading in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Fast forward to today, it's a novel coronavirus that completely changed the lives of everyone worldwide. Lockdowns, working from home, Zoom meetings, wearing facial masks, sanitising our hands — is there a chance we could ever go back to pre-COVID days? Well, there is hope now with vaccines in the picture.
For the better part of the year, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare workers, global government agencies and more have worked extremely hard around the clock. Researching, creating, and testing numerous vaccines to save humankind from the deadly virus that has since taken the lives of more than 1.66mil lives globally. Indeed, light is finally at the end of the dark blurry tunnel, two vaccines have been approved by the US FDA under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and many more vaccines are in clinical trial phases around the world.
Singapore, for one have just announced that Pfizer-BioNTech will be available at the end of this year — free for all Singapore citizens and long-term residents. Here's what we know so far about some of the vaccines available:
Developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German's BioNTech, their vaccine was the first to be approved by the US FDA under the EUA, a mRNA type of vaccine type where it uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to produce a protein to trigger an immune response inside our bodies differing from traditional vaccines where they infuse a weakened or inactivated germ. It has the highest efficacy rate of 95% amongst other vaccines available but poses highly complex logistical challenges with it needing to be stored at -70°C. Talk about some intense freezing sitch. Two doses are required to be administered 21 days apart. So far, Britain, the US, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and China have authorised the use of the vaccine.
Following closely behind, Moderna, an American biotechnology company, created the second vaccine to be approved by the US FDA. Similar to Pfizer-BioNTech, it is a mRNA vaccine with less complex storage requirement. They can be kept for 30 days refrigerated or six months at minus -20°C. Efficacy rate is 94.5% and requires two dosages 28 days apart — neat.
Unlike the first two, Sinovac is an inactivated vaccine type developed by Sivovac Biotech, a Chinese biopharmaceutical company. The making of an inactivated virus involves the usage of a weakened form of a live virus like COVID-19 to stimulate our bodies to produce an immune response, similar to flu and chicken box vaccines. This vaccine is administered with an adjuvant, an immune stimulant that is given to improve the protective response. It is still currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials and efficacy rate is still unknown.
Two Cov-19 vaccines are being developed by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company that does research, development and distribution of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. Resembling Sinovac's vaccine, they developed two inactivated vaccines that require the use of adjuvants. They are currently in phase 3 clinical trials but have been distributed to Chinese government officials and health care workers.
Oxford University partnered with British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company to develop its vaccine against COVID-19. It was initially a frontrunner in developing the vaccine but were taken over by Pfizer and Moderna. They are currently working through phase 3 of clinical trials and dosage regimes for optimal efficacy.