A Look Into Different COVID-19 Vaccines

Published on: 11/01/2021

Learn more about the various COVID-19 vaccines that are set to end the coronavirus pandemic this new year.

When 2020 drew to a close, one of the most hopeful news we’ve heard was the progress on the COVID-19 vaccines. With several pharmaceutical companies reporting successful results in varying stages of their clinical trials, we are now looking forward to the end of this coronavirus pandemic in 2021. 

That said, it’s crucial that we must know the facts about these vaccines so we can make informed choices on our health, and those of our loved ones. 

Authorized Vaccines 

In a statement dated 4 January 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized two authorized vaccines namely the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. 

To ensure the protection that was demonstrated in the clinical trials, the FDA statement further emphasized the importance of following the authorized doses and schedule for each COVID-19 vaccine. For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the dosing schedule takes place with an interval of 21 days between the first and second dose, and for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, it takes 28 days between the first and second dose.

Nonetheless, other countries also have their own authorized vaccines. India, for example, has recently authorized a vaccine from Bharat Biotech. By late December, China has likewise already approved the Sinopharm vaccine. Meanwhile, Britain has authorized the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only for emergency uses at this time.

Vaccines Still Under Clinical Trials

As we eagerly await the availability of these vaccines in our areas, there are other COVID-19 vaccines that are undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials. This is the stage wherein the side effects of the vaccines are studied to ensure its safety and effectiveness. These other vaccines offer us added hope that the prevention of the coronavirus will be accessible to more people in a shorter amount of time. 

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are three vaccines with large-scale or Phase 3 clinical trials are in progress (or being planned) in the United States. These vaccines are from the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Janssen, and Novavax.

Below is a quick comparison of some of these vaccines:

A comparison of various COVID-19 vaccines by SkolarMD.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

Both of the approved vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a single-stranded molecule carrying genetic code from your DNA. This gives your cells instructions on creating certain proteins. In the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA has the instructions on how to make a harmless piece of an S protein. 

Keep in mind that the coronavirus has these spike-like structures on their surface called S proteins. Also known as spike proteins, these are what give the viruses the ability to penetrate host cells and initiate infection.

After vaccination, your cells begin to make the protein pieces and they display them on cell surfaces. Upon recognizing these, your immune system will realize that the protein doesn't belong there, so it builds an immune response and begins to make antibodies.

Precautions and Side Effects

Based on the results from the clinical trials, a COVID-19 vaccine may bring about some mild side effects, which can appear after the first or second dose is administered. These include: 

  • Redness, swelling, or pain (where the vaccine was injected)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain

Most of these symptoms occur within the first three days after vaccination, and will likely go away after one to two days. According to Mayo Clinic, these side effects look similar to the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 itself. It is therefore essential to monitor yourself, self-isolate, and get tested if the symptoms last for more than two days. 

Local Vaccine Distribution

In the Philippines, several local government units (LGUs) have bared their plans to procure a vaccine for their constituents. An online portal has already been established for the advanced registration of Manila residents for the vaccine, while the LGUs of Makati, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, and Sta. Rosa Laguna already allocated the budget for the procurement of the vaccines. 

As the Department of Health sets up its nationwide distribution program for the vaccine, it’s best to keep ourselves fully informed in the coming weeks and months. 

The progress on the COVID-19 vaccine, and its eventual distribution, are definitely something to look forward to in 2021. With these, let us continue to aim for a healthier and happier new year.