The race for COVID-19 vaccine: Here’s how Moderna, Pfizer and Sputnik V vaccines stack up against each other

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The race for COVID-19 vaccine: Here’s how Moderna, Pfizer and Sputnik V vaccines stack up against each other
IANS
  • The US-based biotechnology firm Moderna said its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on Phase 3 trials.
  • Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates are frozen but at different temperatures.
  • Moderna and Pfizer vaccine shots rely on a technology called messenger RNA.
On this day, in 2019, the first coronavirus case was reported in Hubei province in China. And in a grim milestone, the global COVID-19 case tally has crossed the 55 million mark today, according to Johns Hopkins University. However, there has been a silver lining to this pandemic over the last one week — as three COVID vaccines with over 90% efficacy rate in their preliminary trials — offer a ray of hope.

On Monday, Moderna released data from its phase III trials which showed that the vaccine has 94% efficacy rate. This comes close on the heels of developments from Pfizer and Sputnik V as well. The vaccines are among 11 candidates in late-stage testing around the world, including four in the US.

The race for COVID-19 vaccine

VaccineEfficacyRecommended dosesType of vaccineRefrigerator storage
Moderna94.50%2 doses (1 month apart)RNAFrozen for 30 days
Pfizer90%2 doses (3 weeks apart)RNAFrozen at ultra-cold temperatures for 5 days
Sputnik92%2 doses (14-21 days apart)Adenoviral-based2-8 degrees centigrade

Here’s how the three vaccines — Moderna, Pfizer and Sputnik — stack up against each other

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Effectiveness

In the recent development, US-based biotechnology firm Moderna said its vaccine candidate was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on Phase 3 trials. This came a week after Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE announced that their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. Russia also said the initial results from Phase 3 trials showed the Sputnik V vaccine was 92% effective against COVID-19.

Doses

Although all the three vaccines require a patient to take two shots — Moderna’s two doses are administered a month apart, while Pfizer’s are given three weeks apart. And, Sputnik V is given at a difference of two-three weeks.

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Storage challenges

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates are frozen but at different temperatures. Pfizer’s shots require long-term storage at ultra-cold temperatures until a few days before it is used, but can be kept at refrigerator temperatures for as much as five days.

Meanwhile, Moderna pointed to new data showing its doses can last longer in a refrigerator for up to 30 days, much longer than a previously estimated seven days. Whereas, the Sputnik V vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degrees centigrade.

How do the three vaccines work?

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Moderna and Pfizer vaccine shots rely on a technology called messenger RNA. It is worthy to note that RNA has never been used before to develop an approved vaccine. It transforms the body’s own cells into vaccine-making factories, thus triggering an immune response. The vaccine then directs the cells to make copies of the spike protein of the coronavirus, leading to the creation of protective antibodies.

Whereas the Sputnik V is an adenoviral-based vaccine and is designed to trigger a response from two shots based on different viral vectors that normally cause the common cold: human adenoviruses Ad5 and Ad26.

Where does India stand?

Back home in India, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute are on the last phase of trials of their vaccines. India is also likely to receive the first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 for trials in Kanpur’s Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College by next week. The government is also in talks with Moderna’s after the drugmaker announced the 94.5% efficacy of its vaccine.
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