As you read this, the entire globe continues to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the WHO in March 2020. While serious measures have been taken to help stop the ongoing spread of the virus and decrease mortality rates, medical institutions are racing to develop a vaccine to rescue the lives of millions of people around the world. The WHO is working in collaboration with various health organizations and scientists to accelerate the process of deploying an effective vaccine. T there are four types of Covid-19 vaccines, varying in terms of antigens, Nucleic Acid (RNA and DNA), Viral Vector, Protein Subunit, and Whole Virus. Here’s a simple guide to the different Covid-19 vaccines that will be released soon.
Nucleic acid vaccines
Nucleic Acid vaccines work by using genetic substances that give the cells instructions to form the antigen. These genetic materials are either RNA or DNA. When these genetic materials are injected into the human body, they utilize our protein cells to form the antigen, which will activate the immune response. The fact is, when antigens are produced inside our cells in large amounts, the immune reaction is strong and effective. The worry about RNA and DNA vaccines is that they are not approved for human use yet. Another hurdle about RNA vaccines, that it should be preserved below – 70C, which could be challenging for most countries to use.
Viral Vector vaccines operate in the same way as Nucleic Acid Vaccines, but with less harmful viruses, like the adenovirus, which causes the common cold. The health consultants at https://www.healthtap.com explain that the Viral Vector vaccine also triggers a strong immune response, but its effect can be weaker since most people were already exposed to the viruses in this vaccine, and are immune to them
Protein Subunit vaccines utilize protein particles or fragments of pathogens, to activate the immune reaction. The advantages of Protein Subunit vaccines are the lower risks of side effects, while the disadvantages are debilitating side effects. This is why such vaccines usually require a booster dose in order to be effective.
Whole Virus vaccines are very controversial. There are two methods generated by the Whole Virus vaccine, the first is live enervated vaccines, which uses a weakened form of the virus. This type effectively triggers the immune system, but there is a risk it might replicate, exposing many people with weak immunity to the risk of illness, as a reaction to the injected virus. The other is the inactivated vaccine, which uses destroyed genetic material of the virus to terminate its duplication, while still activating an immune response. Both approaches are regulatorily licensed and approved.
Differences between the three main Covid-19 vaccines
The Covid-19 vaccines most commonly used in Europe are the ones from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/Bio Ntech, and Moderna. Although they serve the same purpose and are assigned to achieve corresponding goals, so there are significant differences among all three in terms of effectiveness and structure.
Oxford/Astrazeneca compared to other companies uses a conservative technique, which is the Viral Vector vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the common cold virus in chimpanzees, it utilizes an attenuated virus to be injected in humans, which triggers an immune response at a lower risk.
Pfizer/Bio Ntech and Moderna use RNA technology, the RNA is a genetic material that makes our protein cells produce antigens that activate an immune response. The antigens produced by our own protein cells should have a strong effect on the virus. Other vaccines are being developed by other medical companies and are ready to hit the market such as Novavax, SinoVac, Curevac, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi/GFK, and Sanofi/Translate Bio.
At the beginning of the pandemic, scientists and medical institutes have announced that it requires years of research and extensive efforts to generate a vaccine. With the impending situation, in which people are experiencing illness as a result of the widespread Covid-19, attempts of discovering a vaccine became crucial, since such a virus puts millions of lives in jeopardy around the globe.
Tremendous funds were raised and dedicated to creating the miracle vaccine that will save lives. Around nine companies, including governmental, private, and nonprofit organizations, are competing to achieve the same goal. Governments and donors have spent billions on scientific research and tests to reach a collective solution. Although the vaccine is gradually becoming accessible to the public, strict safety measures, such as travel bans and partial lockdowns, are still enforced in most countries. Slowing down the transmission of the virus is the only way of containment up till now.