With around 47% of the US population having got vaccinated, the race to get the best vaccine that would show 100% efficacy is still going on. In the USA, the major players who have come up for mass immunization are Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna comes around 95%, while Johnson & Johnson falls behind with just 72% potency. But there is more to it than that.
None of the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has caused any fatality. The success rate of the trials may differ, but the positive aspect of each of the vaccines lies in the fact that the COVID-19 mortality rate of the vaccinated people is 0%.
So now it all comes down to which is the best vaccine to take. The better efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna cannot be the sole criteria here. Soon, you will know why.
So without further ado, let’s start with the basics about each of these three vaccines.
Race for the Best Vaccine
Although the race for the best vaccine is not limited to just the three candidates, they are currently the three vaccines that are both FDA approved and ordered to be deployed for mass immunization.
When the COVID-19 virus was detected in December 2019, the first company to respond to it was the German BioNTech which started working on the vaccine as soon as January 2020. Its collaboration with Pfizer has produced the first emergency-approved vaccine in the USA in November 2020. Pfizer is also now the first vaccine to be approved for standard use.
As of 17 May 2021, the total number of Pfizer vaccines distributed is above 180 million.
Following Pfizer, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was the one approved next. Moderna has been developed by the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Its first emergency usage was made on 18 December 2020 when the FDA approved it.
As of 17 May 2021, Moderna has provided over 143 million vaccines throughout the USA.
Johnson & Johnson
FDA approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021. Being the latest among the three, Johnson & Johnson has faced major backlash from the people and government officials due to its poor success rate in comparison with Pfizer and Moderna. Nevertheless, according to the reports, Johnson & Johnson has distributed around 20 million vaccines by 17 May 2021.
How do the Vaccines Work?
One way to determine the efficacy of the best vaccine can only be understood by looking at how these vaccines work.
- Pfizer and Moderna
Both Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA) to fight against the COVID-19 virus. Once the mRNA enters the cells, it influences the cells to produce a minimum amount of protein or protein pieces. As soon as the protein piece is produced, the cell breaks down, and the protein comes up on the surface. Upon detecting the unnatural protein on the cells, our immune system starts producing antibodies to fight against them. It is the presence of these antibodies which enable the immune system to fight against different viruses, including the COVID-19 virus.
- Johnson & Johnson
The difference between the other two vaccines and Johnson & Johnson is the method of instruction. As already seen, Pfizer and Moderna are based on mRNA methodology, whereas Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses adenovirus to send instructions. Adenoviruses usually cause cold or flu-like symptoms. As soon as they enter the body, the immune system produces the antibodies in defense. The researchers, however, have successfully found a way to disable the adenovirus. As a result of this, these viruses can enter the cells but cannot replicate themselves.
It should be promptly established that the adenovirus is in no way related to the COVID-19 virus and does not cause any lethal effect.
The Difference in the Success Rate
From the surface level, Johnson & Johnson proves to be less popular than Pfizer and Moderna in terms of the success rate. But how a vaccine fares in clinical trials has more to do with the measures taken, the time in which it was tested, the group of people participating in trials and other such factors. For example, both Pfizer and Moderna were tested when the variants in the COVID-19 virus were still not there. On the other hand, one of the major reasons Johnson & Johnson could not perform was the emergence of the variants. Also, the group of people enrolled for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had diabetes; HIV, hypertension, and many were above the age of 60.
The age group for the three vaccines varies from one another.
•BioNTech Pfizer: BioNTech can now be administered to children as young as 12.
•Moderna: Individuals who are 18 years or older are eligible for this vaccine.
•Johnson & Johnson: Johnson & Johnson would also be administered to those who are above the age of 18.
Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are under trial to make their vaccines effective and safe for those below 18.
Number of Doses
Pfizer requires two vaccine doses given at the interval of 3 weeks. The vaccine authorities claim that a person will be fully vaccinated two weeks or 14 days after the second dose.
Moderna, too, administers two vaccine shots, but they are given at the interval of 4 weeks. To get vaccinated fully, they take 14 days after the second shot as well.
The unique thing about Johnson & Johnson is that one needs to take only one vaccine shot to get the immunization. Although, it is advised that those vaccinated should maintain safety protocols as it takes around two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective.
And the Best Vaccine is…?
All of them are the best. Given that new variants in the virus are taking down the success rate of the vaccines, Johnson & Johnson fares quite well with it. Moreover, experts believe that the success rate of both Pfizer and Moderna would go down if they take their trials on the new variant.
So, when it comes down to battling the virus, they all are more or less the same. The best vaccine for you would be the one which is first available.
There have been talks about inequality and racism regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it comes cheaper than the other two and works with a normal refrigerator instead of requiring ultra-cold storage. But one should not pay heed to this. So far, all the vaccines have deferred COVID-19 complications resulting in death, and that’s a statement in itself. So without skepticism, get vaccinated by whichever vaccine available near you.
Secure Care Comfort
Comfort care transportation becomes quite important while the vaccine is still to be administered to more than half the USA population. The problems faced by disabled persons during the pandemic are more likely to increase as immediate transportation will be a problem. The transport services like the one provided by Secure Care Comfort where disabled people can be taken to the doctors through a wheelchair is the need of the hour. With such services, disabled persons won’t face any additional difficulty either in an emergency or for getting vaccinated. Just one appointment and their transportation will be managed.
As the purpose of the vaccine is to make everyone immune, we should not forget that tending to disabled people is also the priority in this pandemic.