The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is one of the most anticipated events in the world right now. As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, even more people are scrambling to find and choose a vaccine that they think is best. Currently, there are 13 COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for use in different countries all over the globe and there are 56 COVID-19 vaccines that are still under development and are undergoing clinical trials. This research paper will explore some of the COVID-19 vaccines that are already in circulation and a few of the COVID-19 vaccines that are still being developed.

Currently, there are only three authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States that are recommended for use by the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These COVID-19 vaccines are those manufactured by: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. It might seem too little for now, but there are two more COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to being authorized for use in the United States by the World Health Organization as they are already in the third phase of the required clinical trials. These are: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

Apart from these five COVID-19 vaccines, there are other COVID-19 vaccines being developed and released throughout the world. Each country with the capability of – or those who have excellent pharmaceutical companies – are developing COVID-19 vaccines for distribution to their country or to the world. There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines that are being developed and all of the ones that have been authorized have proved to be safe and mostly effective against COVID-19.

The number of those infected with COVID-19 rapidly rise because of the new variants of COVID-19 found in United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, which worries some people as they are doubtful whether the COVID-19 vaccines will work against these new variants. However, as of writing, there are about 300,000 people, mostly health workers and those who are at high risk due to COVID-19 exposure, that have already been vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines in Circulation

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

BNT162b2 is the code name for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during its clinic trials. In the clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has a 95% effectivity rate and was tested on nearly 44 thousand volunteers. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. mRNA vaccines, in the simplest sense, instructs a cell on how to produce a part of the spike protein that is unique to the COVID-19 virus. This way, the vaccine is able to safely trigger an immune response.

There were manifestations of common post-vaccination side effects that were mostly mild to moderate and the physical symptoms of the side effects such as having headaches and fever are common after the second dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been given. It cannot be denied nor hidden that a few people went to the hospital or had died in the clinic trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine but based on the evidence gathered in the research trials, the people who got vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were less likely to have these more serious outcomes compared to people who got the saline placebo (NCIRD, 2021).

For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, two shots of the vaccine are to be administered on the upper arm’s muscle 21 days apart. It is common to experience redness, pain, and swelling on the injection site and for an individual to experience chills, tiredness, and headache especially after the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been administered.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is indeed safe and effective but there are those who are not recommended to be immunized with his vaccine. Only individuals age 16 above are cleared to be vaccinated with this due to contraindications or limited data. Furthermore, individuals who have a history of severe allergies and most pregnant women are not part of those who are recommended to take the vaccine. Pregnant women who are highly exposed to COVID-19 and those who breastfeed may be up for vaccination after discussing with their doctor.

International travelers are also not part of the prioritized group for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. However, people with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, among others. Although, for people who are immune-compromised, further studies are required as data on how the vaccine may affect them is limited. The same goes for people who are HIV infected.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the first to be approved for emergency use. This COVID-19 vaccine costs about $19.50 per dose.

Which COVID-19 vaccine is the best option?

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

For the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273 was the code name given to it during the clinical trials. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and has displayed an effectivity rate of 94% and was tested on more than 30 thousand volunteers who did not get infected with the COVID-19 virus prior the clinical trials. As with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, mild to moderate side effects have manifested during the first week after the first dose was given and more physical symptoms have exhibited itself after the second shot.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses of the vaccine, for maximum efficacy, that are injected on the muscle of the upper arm, 28 days apart from each other. However, if necessary, the gap between the two doses may be extended for up to 42 days. Again, it is normal for those who get vaccinated to feel tiredness, headache, chills, and swelling, redness, and a little pain on the site of injection.

More than 80% of the people who volunteered for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s clinical trials are highly exposed to COVID-19 due to occupational hazards. As with the other COVID-19 vaccines, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized and recommended by both the FDA and WHO as safe for use. But contrary to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is deemed safe for people 18 years old and above – two years higher than what was allowed in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – which means that slightly fewer people are allowed to be vaccinated with this.

Again, people who have a history of severe allergic reactions, especially to any medications, should refrain from being vaccinated from the time being – until more data can be gathered – as a precaution. Pregnant women have the option to be vaccinated – along with consultation with their healthcare provider – but they must be informed that there is limited data about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s efficacy and safety when administered to pregnant women.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine costs $25-$37 per dose.

How do vaccines work? Is it safe to get vaccinated?

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine’s code name is JNJ-78436735 and was formerly Ad26.COV2.S in its clinical trials. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines carries a modified virus which delivers a gene that instructs the cells in the individual’s body to create a spike protein which serves as the antigen or the immune response of the body against the COVID-19 virus. Viral vector vaccines can surely not cause a disease when used on humans.

The Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has a 72% effectivity rate in preventing a person from being infected by moderate to severe COVID-19 in the United States. Unlike the two prior COVID-19 vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine needs only one dose that is injected on the upper arm. Meaning, a person does not have to come back to get the second shot since he only needs one dose of the vaccine. Having only a single dose of vaccine does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccine is less effective.

Like the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are only recommended for use on people aged 18 and above due to limited data. Like any other vaccine, common side effects lie experiencing headaches, fever, soreness, and swelling at the injected site are to be expected after being shot by the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is found to be 57% effective against B1.351 South African COVID-19 strain. The Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the cheapest COVID-19 vaccine out of the three as a single dose costs only $10.

Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine

The Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine with the code names ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 and also known as Covishield, is a viral vector vaccine. According to a recent study, the Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine was observed to have 76% effectivity rate if only a single dose has been given but the effectivity rate increases to 82% after the second dose has been administered. However, the World Health Organization notes that this COVID-19 vaccine has shown only 63% effectivity rate on asymptomatic people.

Like the other vaccines, the Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccineis recommended to be administered to health workers who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and to the elderly. This COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people ages 19 and above. People whose immunity is compromised, like those living with HIV or those who are pregnant, are recommended to consult with their physician first to receive counseling.

The Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine needs two doses that are shot 8-12 weeks apart for full effectivity. Although, some studies suggest that longer intervals – that are still within the 8-12 week range – between being given the two vaccines are associated with higher effectivity rates.

The Oxford AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine has also been tested against the B1.351 South African COVID-19 strain with a 10% effectivity rate. It costs around $25-$37 per dose.

Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine

The Gam-COVID-Vac otherwise known as the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is also a viral vector vaccine. This COVID-19 vaccine has been deemed same for use and offers immunization against the COVID-19 virus. The Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine uses a modified cold COVID-19 virus – that is deemed to be harmless –and makes the body produce antigens that will assist the immune system in preparing for getting infected with COVID-19.

Unlike the other viral vector COVID-19 vaccines, the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine gives a slightly different second dose instead of administering the same dose used in the first shot. This enables the immunity response to be boosted and for the person to be protected from COVID-19 for a longer period of time.

In its clinical trials with over 22,000 participants in a controlled environment, the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine has shown 73% efficacy after the first dose, and rising up to 91% after both doses of the vaccine has been administered. There is no stated age restriction for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. It has only been noted that after the first shot, the seriousness of COVID-19 in an infected person has been reduced.

As of writing, at least two million Russians have been vaccinated using the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine but only up to its first dose. This vaccine should be administered twice, 21 days apart from each dosage. The common side effects after being vaccinated is also present in this vaccine and should be nothing to worry about.

It’s effectivity against the new variants of COVID-19 is yet to be tested. The Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine costs $10 per dose.

Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine 

The BBIBP-CorV or Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine is an inactivated virus vaccine which incorporates a weakened form of COVID-19 or SARS-CoV2 that is chemically inactivated using beta-propiolactone. This technology is deemed safe for use and is not able to infect those injected with COVID-19. It has shown an effectivity rate of 86% after 2 doses have been administered, 21 days apart.

Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine

The Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine is also an inactivated virus vaccine. It is currently being tested if it is safe for use for children aged 3-17 years old and it is not recommended for those who are 60 years old and above as the data available is limited. The Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine has a varied effectivity rate that depends on the country it has been tested on. 

In Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine’s clinical trial held in Brazil with over 12,000 health workers who are injected with this vaccine, it has shown 50% effectivity rate. This is the lowest the Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine has got. On the contrary, the highest effectivity rate it recorded is 91% in Turkey, but it has only been tested on 29 people.

The Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine needs two doses that are to be injected 21 days apart. It costs about $29.75-60 per dose.

Bharat Biotech COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine

The COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine is another inactivated virus vaccine. In its clinical trials, the COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine showed 81% efficacy after the second dose of the vaccine has been administered. There were 24,000 participants in its clinical trials. This COVID-19 vaccine should be administered twice, 28 days apart.

As of writing, it is only authorized for emergency use in India but the manufacturer only recently entered into an agreement to sell the COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil.

COVID-19 Vaccines Under Development

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

The NVX-CoV2373 or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is a virus-like particle vaccine that uses nanoparticles that are coated with synthetic spike proteins. An adjuvant is added to boost the injected person’s immune response. This COVID-19 vaccine is administered in 2 doses, 21 days apart from each shot. In the clinical trials, it showed 89% effectivity and even tested 60% effective against B1.351 South African COVID-19 strain. It is one of the vaccines that are soon to be authorized for use in the United States.

CureVac COVID-19 vaccine 

The CVnCoV or CureVac COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA-based vaccine. This COVID-19 vaccine uses non-chemically modified nucleotides with the messenger RNA to balance the immune response of the individual. Clinical trials have shown that this COVID-19 vaccine indeed works well on the volunteers.

Sanofi-GSK COVID-19 vaccine

The Sanofi-GSK COVID-19 vaccine is a recombinant protein vaccine and was evidenced to be performing well in its clinical trials. This vaccine stimulates an immune response from the body by inserting a DNA that has antigen properties and develops a mutant protein.

COVAXX COVID-19 vaccine 

The UB-612 or COVAXX COVID-19 vaccine is the first multitope peptide-based vaccine that triggers the immune response in animals that it has been tested on. It is also deemed safe and well-tolerated.

Medicago-GSK-Dynavax COVID-19 vaccine

The VIR-7831 or Medicago-GSK-Dynavax COVID-19 vaccine is a plant-based adjuvant vaccine which involves cloning the vaccine candidate into a plant which then makes the plant produce antigenic proteins. This COVID-19 vaccine has been tested on mice and has shown that is safe and that generated an immune response after two doses.

The manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines are making groundbreaking progress as they have succeeded to make a vaccine to fight the virus responsible for the pandemic that has enveloped the earth. They have successfully developed COVID-19 vaccines in the span of a year. Even if only time can tell how long the available COVID-19 vaccines already in circulation’s protection will last, these COVID-19 vaccines still stand for hope for many people who already lost loved ones to the pandemic.

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