2020 was packed with relentless despair and gloom owing to the inconsiderate spread of the miserable virus – COVID-19. However, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and we found ours in the form of vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine provided the much-needed breakthrough by becoming the first certified coronavirus vaccine. It was accompanied by the likes of Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and roughly a dozen more. Read on to get acquainted with the entire nitty-gritty of the ongoing vaccination drive.
2019 was nearing its close when Wuhan proclaimed the very first cases of SARS-CoV-2 also known as COVID-19. Since then, as of 24th February 2021, an entirety of 111,951,961 people have been infected globally. Concurrently, the virus has claimed the lives of as many as 2,480,465 people. 2020 was packed with relentless despair and gloom owing to the inconsiderate spread of the miserable virus. However, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and we found ours in the form of vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine provided the much-needed breakthrough by becoming the first certified coronavirus vaccine. It was accompanied by the likes of Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and roughly a dozen more. Russian Sputnik V was the first vaccine to be announced. But its credibility was highly disputed owing to the lack of proper safety data.
Before exploring the technicalities of vaccines, one must acknowledge what a vaccine is and how it operates. Vaccines comprise weakened or dormant elements of a distinct organism known as an antigen. It triggers an immune response inside the body, therefore, training the body’s immune system to combat diseases it has not come in contact with before. Vaccines concentrate on prevention rather than treatment of diseases. The entire credit goes to Edward Jenner, the man responsible for discovering vaccines.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
- Name: BNT162b2
- Manufactured by Pfizer Inc.
- Type of vaccine: mRNA
- Number of shots: 2 shots, 21 days apart.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is designated for people 16 years and above. Evidence collected from clinical trials found the vaccine to be 95% effective. The shot is injected into the muscle of the upper arm and needs to be stored at a frigid minus 80 to minus 60 C until five days before use. In a recent development, the companies said they had asked the US FDA to approve for the vaccine to be stored for up to two weeks at minus 25 to minus 15 degrees Celsius. In the US, Pfizer has valued the vaccine at $19.5 (₹1,440) per dose.
- Name: mRNA-1273
- Manufacturer: ModernaTX, Inc.
- Type of vaccine: mRNA
- Number of shots: 2 shots, one month (28 days) apart.
With a proven efficacy rate of 94.1%, Moderna’s vaccine is injected into the muscle of the upper arm and is prescribed for people 18 and above. Developed by Moderna, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, vials of this vaccine may be stored in the refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C for up to 30 days before the vials are punctured. As announced by Moderna’s Chief Executive in an interview, governments ought to pay between $25 and $37 per dose of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, depending on the quantity secured.
Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
- Name: (AZD1222); also known as Covishield
- Manufacturer: AstraZeneca PLC
- Type of vaccine: Adenovirus vaccine
- Number of shots: 2 shots, administered between 4 and 12 weeks after the first dose.
The AZD1222 vaccine against COVID-19 with efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is acquired from a diluted variant of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been altered to resemble coronavirus. It can be stored at a temperature range of 2-8°C. Jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, the vaccine is given by intramuscular injection. Serum Institute of India (AstraZeneca’s partner for Covishield) CEO had said in November 2020 that the vaccine would be available at about ₹1,000 per shot in the Indian private market.
- Name: Sputnik V
- Manufacturer: Gamaleya Research Institute, Acellena Contract Drug Research and Development
- Type of vaccine: Non-replicating viral vector
- Number of shots: 2 shots.
The world’s first registered vaccine Sputnik V is one of the three vaccines with an efficacy of over 90%. One dose of the vaccine costs less than $10 in international markets. The lyophilized (dry) form of the vaccine can be stored at a temperature of +2 to +8 degrees Celsius.
- Name: Covaxin
- Manufacturer: Bharat Biotech
- Type of vaccine: Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell
- Number of shots: 2-dose vaccination regimen given 28 days apart.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) have collaborated with Bharat Biotech to produce an Indian autochthonous COVID-19 vaccine. It is a vaccine with no sub-zero storage, no reconstitution element, and ready-to-use fluid presentation in multi-dose vials, stable at 2-8 degrees C. It has been approved for restricted emergency use in India by DCGI-CDSCO while the interim efficacy estimate will be generated by the end of Feb 2021.
Vaccines like CoronaVac, BBIBP-CorV, and EpiVacCorona amongst many likewise have been engaged to defeat COVID-19 while several others are enduring clinical trials. Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Janssen has also filed appeals for approval.
The fact that the virus continues to mutate will necessitate the Pharma Companies to keep up and ensure protection against new variants. The spread of highly contagious UK strain and South African strain raises several questions on the strains leaving the vaccination drive with reduced efficiency of antibody protection, that is being looked into by health researchers and scientists.
COVAX, a World Health Organization initiative, requires special mention here. The initiative has been devised to guarantee evenhanded access to COVID-19 vaccines for all nations, notwithstanding income levels, once accredited and approved.
Vaccines do have several side effects like injection site pain, headache, tiredness, and muscle aches, ordinarily in the initial two days and later settling within a week after inoculation. However, no unforeseen safety concerns have been reported after administering more than 150 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Information Sources: www.cdc.gov, www.who.int, www.bbc.com, www.sputnikvaccine.com
Gaurav Chakraborty is a student pursuing Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Rutba Iqbal
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.