The most promising COVID-19 vaccines

On 8 December 2020, the UK begun vaccinating its at-risk citizens with the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer.

This vaccine has first been made available to those who are over the age of 80 or are care home or frontline workers.

South Africa expects the first applications for vaccines to be submitted within this month, and is planning on fast-tracking regulatory approval for them.

South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said the government hopes to receive its first vaccines from the global Covax global vaccine scheme in the second quarter of 2021.

“Sahpra will prioritise all COVID-19 applications and will apply an expedited approach to health products, including vaccines,” said spokesperson Yuven Gounden.

Numerous vaccines

There are a number of different vaccines being created and tested around the world with the goal of protecting people against COVID-19.

These are in various stages of development, but the fact that some vaccines are already being rolled out to the public in countries like the UK is a great sign.

Some of the most promising COVID-19 vaccines are detailed below.

Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine, which is officially named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, has been developed by a partnership of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

On 23 November, Oxford said the vaccine candidate was 70% effective, but this rises to 90% effectiveness in the right dosage.

This vaccine is made from a weaker version of the common cold which infects chimpanzees.

This virus has been manipulated so that it teaches the human body to recognise spike proteins in the human body so that when someone is exposed to the coronavirus, their immune system knows to destroy it.

CoronaVac

Chinese company Sinovac Biotech is testing a vaccine which is made from a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The vaccine has been approved for emergency use in China and results from tests published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that it was well-tolerated and got participants’ immune systems to respond to the virus.

However, results as to the effectiveness of this vaccine are still be determined as conclusive results are yet to be announced.

Moderna

The Moderna vaccine, developed by the company of the same name, was the first to be tested on humans in the US, and was also one of the first to release results from its phase 3 trials.

The results of this vaccine are extremely promising, as they showed it is 94.5% effective in protecting against the virus.

The vaccine uses genetic material called messenger RNA which teaches the subject’s cells to build viral proteins – in the case of this vaccine, the coronavirus spike protein.

While messenger RNA vaccines have several advantages, they are also more risk in terms of side-effects and are potentially less effective in the long-term.

Pfizer

Pfizer has developed the vaccine which was first introduced in the UK to the general populous.

It has shown a 95% effectiveness for preventing COVID-19, and Pfizer has said it plans to produce up to 50 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year, as well as up to 1.3 billion doses next year.

The vaccine is similar to Moderna’s vaccine in that they both use messenger RNA and are administered in two doses.

A difficulty with the Pfizer vaccine, however, is that it must be stored at much colder temperatures than the Moderna vaccine.

On the other hand, it did not cause any major side effects, which is one of the reasons it is already being administered.

Now read: South African hospitals warn of virus surge during holiday season

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The most promising COVID-19 vaccines