I’m sure you’ve been paying close attention to the news about the various vaccines that are being discussed. COVID-19 vaccines are medicines that aim to prevent disease by triggering an immune response.
According to the World Health Organization 48 potential vaccines are going through clinical trials around the world, with 4 leading the way as front runners.
How do Vaccines work?
Vaccines work by preparing a person’s immune system (the body’s natural defences) to recognise and defend itself against a specific disease.
Most research on COVID-19 vaccines involves generating responses to all or part of a protein (spike protein) that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. When a person receives the vaccine, it will trigger an immune response. If the person is infected by the virus later, the immune system recognises the viruses and protects the person from COVID-19.
We’ve done some research and here’s some information about the 4 potential front runners for the Covid-19 vaccination we’ve been hearing about in the news recently. All 4 are hoping for approval that will allow their vaccine to be rolled out in the coming few weeks and months.
The Oxford/Astra Zeneca group have created a viral vector vaccine: this is based on a virus that causes an illness like the common cold in chimpanzees. This is a way of exposing the body to the “spike protein” without exposing it to the Coronavirus.
Trials show it stops 70% of people developing Covid symptoms, which they think will be improved to 90% with further work
• The data also shows a strong immune response in older people.
• The UK has ordered 100 million doses
• It is given in two doses
• Trials with more than 20,000 volunteers are still continuing
• This may be one of the easiest vaccines to distribute, because it does not need to be stored at very cold temperatures.
Sputnik V is also a viral vector vaccine which works like the Oxford one, with trials so far suggesting it is 92% efficient
Moderna and Pfizer & BioNtech are both working on an mRNA vaccine. This is a new type of vaccine that involves making a synthetic version of the coronavirus spike protein’s RNA. It uses small fragments from the genetic code of Covid-19 to start making the virus inside a human body. It tricks the body into recognising the virus as foreign and attacking it with antibodies.
Modernas vaccination claims 94.5% of people are protected
• The UK will have five million doses by the spring
• It is given in two doses, four weeks apart
• 30,000 have been involved in the trials, with half getting the vaccine and half dummy injections
Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine shows it stops more than 90% of people developing Covid symptoms
• The UK should get 10 million doses by the end of 2020, with another 30 million ordered
• It is given in two doses, three weeks apart
• About 43,000 people have had the vaccine, with no safety concerns
• The vaccine must be stored at a temperature of around -70C. It will be transported in a special box, packed in dry ice and installed with GPS trackers.
The infographic below hopefully explains more about viral vector, mRDA and inactivated vaccinations.