2020 media platforms have been continuously flooded with information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has been affecting the lives of millions of people across the world since the start of the year. However, there is hope though, for the eventual containment of the virus.
Teams of scientists around the world have been researching, testing, and working for a possible vaccine. Recent news has declared that a handful of potential vaccines could reach the general public in the near future. The front-runner companies for a working and effective vaccine are Pfizer, Inc. in partnership with BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH and Moderna, Inc.
Both of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA is used to cause an immune response in the human body. This is thought to help the body gain immunity and fight the virus. Although there are minor differences between the two vaccine options, they are relatively the same. On Friday, November 20, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their authorization request.
On Friday, December 11th, the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine was officially approved for emergency use in the U.S. Partnered with Operation Warp Speed, hundreds of millions of the companies’ vaccine doses are expected to be delivered by the end of 2021. The Pfizer, Inc and BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses, three weeks apart. It is crucial that the vaccine is stored at negative 70 degrees celsius, and it has only 10 days to reach the vaccination center. Overall, 43,000 people have received this vaccine through clinical trials with no health or safety issues to follow. It is also projected that this vaccine has stopped 90 percent of people from developing COVID-19. On Wednesday, December 2nd, Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine was also approved in the U.K. There is a signed agreement that allowed for the U.K to receive about 40 million doses in 2020 and 2021.
On Monday, November 30, Moderna released their phase three clinical trial data for their potential vaccine and applied for authorization. Of the 30,000 people who volunteered for the vaccine tests, half were vaccinated with the correct dose, and the other half were given placebo.
Among the approximately 15,000 people who received the correct vaccine, 11 developed the virus. Of the 15,000 people who were given placebo, 185 received the virus. These data trials correspond with a 94.1 percent efficacy for Moderna’s vaccine. To add to the efficiency of the vaccine, the 11 patients who caught covid and were tested with the correct vaccine did not become severely ill. This is in contrast to the 185 who got covid and were tested with placebo; 30 of the 185 who developed covid became severely ill and 1 passed away.
One of the biggest aspects of creating an efficient vaccine is determining the safety of the dose. Before a vaccine is even thought about being authorized, it goes through many different clinical trials. These clinical trials include thousands of study participants to generate specific scientific data. The data recorded is run through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to essentially determine their safety and effectiveness. Once the vaccine is approved by the FDA, it is passed to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This organization has the job of reviewing the provided data and information to make vaccination recommendations to the CDC.
Since the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine has officially been approved,, there will be many different safety monitor systems that are to be put in place. The monitor systems are commenced to track and make sure there are no severe side effects. As the monitoring continues, it gives scientists the opportunity to pick up on conflicting effects that they may not have seen in the clinical trials.
Systems consist of surveys and check in services to see how the vaccinated patients are doing. Many of these monitor systems are through text messages or over the phone, to make it convenient for the patients. Since the pandemic has reached the U.S, the ACIP has been holding extensive meetings to review data of COVID-19. As of now, the first groups to acquire the vaccine will be healthcare workers, people who are at a high risk of contracting the virus due to underlying medical issues, and citizens over 65 years of age.
Things are looking up for society as a new vaccine has finally been approved for use and will hopefully reach the general public in the near future. Continuing to stay smart and safe should be the main goal of the general public as we patiently await the containment of the COVID-19 virus.