COVID-19 vaccines continue to show promise

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Coronavirus vaccines from three pharmaceutical companies have reported results, giving hope that the global pandemic may finally end. AstraZeneca is the latest company to report findings of their vaccine trials, joining competitors Pfizer and Moderna.

AstraZeneca has reported significant progress in the efficacy of their vaccine. The trial initially featured two full doses of the vaccine administered at least a month apart, reporting an efficacy of 62 percent. However, the second trial was performed by giving a half dose of the vaccine that same month apart, showing an efficacy of 90 percent. According to AstraZeneca, this created an average efficacy of 70 percent overall. Meanwhile, both Pfizer and Moderna have reported approximately 95 percent efficacy. Each of these results has qualified the vaccines to continue on the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency approval process. Should emergency approval be granted, the vaccines would be mass produced and distributed almost immediately.

According to the FDA, “Vaccines work by mimicking the infectious bacteria or viruses that cause disease. Vaccination stimulates the body’s immune system to build up defenses against the infectious bacteria or virus (organism) without causing the disease. The parts of the infectious organism that the immune system recognizes are foreign to the body and are called antigens. Vaccination exposes the body to these antigens.”

According to Moderna, over 30,000 people have been given the vaccine to date, while Pfizer has data on over 19,000 participants. AstraZeneca has administered approximately 9,000 vaccinations. Given the wide scope of the testing groups, each company has reached Phase 3 of the FDA’s testing protocol, where “the vaccine is generally administered to thousands of people and the study generates critical information on effectiveness and additional important safety data.” According to the FDA’s site, this was the final step required prior to submitting the vaccine for emergency approval.

Both the current Trump administration and the incoming Biden team will have to work to develop a plan for the distribution of the vaccine as soon as they are approved.