The year 2020 generated a great amount of uncertainty around the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and its impact on daily lives. Now 2021 has already been set to be all about rolling out safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.
UNICEF has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard which is “an interactive tool for countries, partners and industry to follow the developments of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 vaccine market and the efforts of the COVAX Facility to ensure fair and equitable access for every country in the world,” the organization revealed.
We take a look at the Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, Oxford–AstraZeneca and Moderna, four popular vaccines which are among over ten vaccines already on the market. Which one of these vaccine is the best is a question that many persons may contemplate.
Vaccines are suppose to lower your chances of getting sick and spreading the disease to others. All four vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, Oxford–AstraZeneca and Moderna, have proven effectiveness. However, it might be too early to state which is more superior or safer than the other. Over time, a fair comparison will be made as more evidence reveals the vaccines effectiveness and safety.
Pfizer-BioNTech – USA-based
According to the Center of Disease Control, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection which is based on evidence from clinical trials of the vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech uses a messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers a bit of genetic code to cells. The novel mRNA technology teaches the human cells to make proteins. CDC published that, “mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.”
A disadvantage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the need to store it at extremely cool temperatures for its effectiveness. An advantage however is the speed of production if needed.
Sinovac Biotech – China-based
Sinovac Biotech is an inactivated vaccine which works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus protein without risking a serious disease response. It uses a more conventional vaccine technology that can be stored at normal fridge temperatures like the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Like all the vaccines, Sinovac also requires a two-dose schedule for a full response.
Oxford Astra-Zeneca – United Kingdom-based
The Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine is made from a genetically engineered common cold virus in chimpanzees which is modified to transport part of the COVID-19 DNA into our human cells. The human cells then use this DNA to make COVID-19 viral proteins whilst the chimpanzee’s virus is harmlessly degraded.
An Oxford Astra-Zeneca jab into a patient will prompt the immune system to start making antibodies that attacks any coronavirus infection. This vaccine is also stored at normal fridge temperatures unlike the Pfizer’s jab which has to be kept at an extremely cold temperature (-70C).
Based on research, the vaccine has shown to be highly effective and has no severe complications or hospitalization in patients.
Moderna – USA-based
Like Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine is made using mRNA technology which is in effect, a recipe to make the surface protein known as spike on the coronavirus. The proteins made with the mRNA instructions activate the immune system which teaches it to see the surface protein as foreign which then develop antibodies and other immunity weapons to fight the disease.
The Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected according to the CDC website.
Few people were admitted to the hospital in the clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccines in the Caribbean
Vaccines are already here in the Caribbean. While several countries in the Caribbean region are waiting to get access to a COVID-19 vaccine, smaller overseas territories are getting vaccines from their “mother countries”. The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat are OTs which have already received vaccines and are rolling out their vaccination schedules.
In the United States Virgin Islands, the Pfizer vaccine is already in the islands and are “delivered to storage hubs where an ultra-cold storage freezer is stationed and redistributed to select clinical healthcare entities-or spokes-where vaccines will be administered, according to the USVI’s Department of Health press release.
Unlike Greater Antillean, Jamaica, is set to receive between 146,400 and 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, by mid to late February 2021, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton revealed.
Aruba will receive the Pfizer vaccine from their mother country, the Netherlands, and is expected to role out a vaccination schedule for mid-February.
Vaccination across the Caribbean so far is voluntary. The Caribbean islands that have received vaccines already are mostly using the United Kingdom’s Oxford Astra-Zeneca and the U.S. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.