The Covid vaccination programme for the UK is now underway for those in the first at risk groups. The vaccine chosen is the Pfizer RNA vaccine. There are currently 2 other vaccines that are being developed and are possible for the vaccination programme in the UK. These current vaccines in development use a wide range of vaccine technology platforms, some are tried and tested and others are cutting edge. It is very difficult at this stage to compare these vaccines as the different labs can test different doses and populations and also use different assays to measure the immune response.
BioNTech is the German company working with Pfizer on this RNA Vaccine. It has been given to a 43,000 in the trials but we will not know the full range of side effects until a much larger group of people have been vaccinated. All side effects should be recorded using the Yellow Card system. It can be difficult to make the decision whether or not to have the vaccine and at this stage we do not have all the information to give to each individual on their own risk. However we do know that Covid 19 has already caused 60,00 deaths in the UK. .
The Oxford vaccine is a viral vector vaccine: it is based on a live adenovirus which has been modified to contain the genetic sequence of the coronavirus “spike protein”, which is thought to play a significant role in infecting the body’s cells. This vaccine exposes the body to the spike protein without exposing it to the coronavirus. When the immune system comes into contact with the coronavirus it is already primed to react. The results form Oxford so far are promising and emphasize the importance of triggering T cells as well as antibodies.
Moderna is the American company working on an RNA vaccine, a new type of vaccine that involves making a synthetic version of coronavirus spike protein’s RNA- the genetic instructions that tell cells how to make the protein. This tricks the body into making the spike protein itself and this induces an immune response. The advantage of this type of vaccine is that you only need very small quantities to create the immune response. The process is new and there has never been an RNA vaccine licensed for use before.
There are a number of other vaccines being developed around the world.
It is important that the vaccines are safe for use in the human populations, that they can be produced on a large scale and that the distribution and delivery of the vaccines is straightforward and cheap. It is likely that more that one vaccine will be required as different age groups, sex, ethnicities or people with comorbidities will need a different vaccine to give the best protection and immune response. As the trials proceed we will get more date and information to give the best advice to individuals.
There will also be a need to develop the vaccine and make amendments as the virus mutates and this is a new and exciting developmental area as technology improves.
The development of reliable and safe vaccines against the Corona virus is very promising and we hope a way back to some form of normality for all around the World.