COVID-19 Vaccine Discovery

Image Courtesy of CNBC

Image Courtesy of CNBC

Jennah Hamze, News Editor

Both Pfizer and Moderna have released information about a COVID vaccine. Both companies held trials and have shown that the vaccine is over 90% effective. An emergency authorization is planned to be set in place in the next coming days.

The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in less than a year, a record time for vaccine research and development. The development of a vaccine typically takes many years. Pfizer hopes to get the vaccine out to the public very soon, but this does not mean that everyone can get vaccinated in the next coming months. Only half of the vaccine supply will be released this year, which is only enough for 12.5 million people. The United States has a population of 330 million, so only 3.80% will receive it beginning mid-December. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, states that high risk groups, such as the elderly, health care workers and people with underlying conditions will be the first to receive the vaccine.

The Pfizer trial for the vaccine involved 44,000 volunteers, where half received the vaccine and half received a placebo. Results concluded that the vaccine was efficient and consistent across ages. The vaccine has mild side effects, with the most severe being fatigue. The next step is to get the vaccine approved by the F.D.A. Long term, Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, while Moderna’s must be kept at -4 degrees Fahrenheit. During administration, Pfizer’s vaccine can be kept in freezers for five days, or special coolers for 15, but must be kept with extreme care by replenishing ice and keeping boxes closed as much as possible. Moderna may have a leg up in the race since their vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 30 days, making administration and storage much easier than Pfizer’s. Vaccines will be shipped with dry ice and GPS locators.

New technology was implemented by Pfizer and Moderna during the research and development of the vaccine. mRNA, a synthetic version of coronavirus material, was used. Ugur Sahin, M.D, CEO and Co-Founder of BioNTech states “These achievements highlight the potential of mRNA as a new drug class. Our objective from the very beginning was to design and develop a vaccine that would generate rapid and potent protection against COVID-19 with a benign tolerability profile across all ages.” Pfizer is confident that they will be able to safely and quickly distribute their vaccine across the world.