What Can the Different COVID-19 Vaccines Protect You From?

By leonard on April 8, 2021

As a medical group, we love to do our part when it comes to educating folk about the dangers of COVID-19, as well as the misconceptions surrounding it. Now that the world population is slowly but surely being inoculated with different kinds of COVID vaccines, it’s time to know: What exactly does the COVID-19 vaccine protect you from?

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

“COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). You should also know that no vaccine is ever approved by the FDA for emergency use without undergoing several trials and tests first. “The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine before it is used under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).”

Pfizer-BioNTech (USA)

Developed by German-Turkish scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, the Pfizer-BioNTech novel mRNA vaccine was the world’s first glimmer of hope when it received its EUA last December 12, 2020. 

  • During a phase 3 study, it was found “to be 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose. Efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics; observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%.” 
  • Thanks to a real-world study done by the Israel Ministry of Health (MoH), we now know that “vaccine effectiveness was at least 97% in preventing symptomatic disease, severe/critical disease and death” two weeks after the second dose. 
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pfizer jab remains highly effective even six months after the second dose. 
  • However, it is not yet known if it can protect against transmission of COVID-19. “A: Most vaccines that protect from viral illnesses also reduce transmission of the virus that causes the disease by those who are vaccinated. While it is hoped this will be the case, the scientific community does not yet know if the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will reduce such transmission,” said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Moderna (USA)

The Moderna breakthrough, which came swiftly after Pfizer-BioNTech’s gold podium finish (only six days afterwards), was led by Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer and a former head of global oncology at bio-pharmaceutical company Sanofi. It was developed in collaboration with the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

  • “Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected,” says the CDC.
  • However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “we do not know whether the vaccine will prevent infection and protect against onward transmission. Immunity persists for several months, but the full duration is not yet known. These important questions are being studied.”

AstraZeneca (United Kingdom)

Developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, two versions of the vaccine—AstraZeneca-SKBio (by the Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India—were given its EUA last February 15, 2021, according to WHO.

  • It “has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Longer dose intervals within the 8 to 12 weeks range are associated with greater vaccine efficacy,” says WHO.
  • The US FDA’s cutoff for vaccine efficacy is 50%, which means the AZ vaccine still provides a high degree of protection. ““If you had a 60 or 70 percent effective vaccine and everybody took it, you might actually be reaching toward herd immunity and potentially then dampen down this pandemic,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group and editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine.
  • However, in a press release dated April 8, 2021, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) adopted the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recommendation to “temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for individuals aged below 60 years old, following recent reports of rare cases of blood clots with low platelets detected in some individuals inoculated with the vaccine.”
  • “This temporary suspension DOES NOT MEAN that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective—it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino. We continue to underscore that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks and we urge everyone to get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” said FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo.
  • Just like Pfizer and Moderna, there is no definitive proof that AZ vaccination prevents transmission, according to Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory School of Medicine.

Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (USA)

Developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, it is the first-ever single-shot vaccine in the fight against COVID-19. It was approved for emergency use last February 27, 2021.

CoronaVac/SinoVac (China)

While known more commonly in the Philippines as Sinovac, China’s COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is actually called CoronaVac. It was approved for emergency use by the Philippine FDA last February 22, 2021, and is likely the vaccine your local government unit (LGU) has in store for you.

  • [SinoVac] works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response,” says the BBC. “By comparison the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines being developed in the West are mRNA vaccines. This means part of the coronavirus’ genetic code is injected into the body, triggering the body to begin making viral proteins, but not the whole virus, which is enough to train the immune system to attack.”
  • According to results in Brazil, CoronaVac only has an efficacy rate of 50.4%, barely passing the US FDA’s requirement.
  • “Ang nakita kasi sa trial sa Brazil na binigay ito sa healthcare workers sa hospitals treating COVID-19 ay 50.4% ang efficacy niya. Mas mabuti na kaysa wala. Pero ang rekomendasyon natin, ng mga experts ay hindi ito ang pinaka magandang bakuna para sa kanila,” FDA Director General Domingo said in a media briefing. “It has a lower efficacy rate of 50.4% when used on healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19. Therefore, it is not recommended for use in this group.”

Sputnik V (Russia)

Developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, this vaccine is not authorized and recommended by the CDC. Emergency mass distribution began in December 2020 for Russia, Argentina, Hungary, the UAE, and more. It was approved for emergency use in India just yesterday, April 12, 2021, and is slowly gaining traction in European countries.

  • In a study published in international medical journal The Lancet, the Sputnik V vaccine was found to have 92% effectivity.
  • “The vaccine was also found to be 100% effective against moderate or severe COVID-19, as there were no such cases among the group of 78 participants who were infected and symptomatic at 21 days after the first shot was administered,” according to Reuters.
  • “The Sputnik vaccine works in a similar way to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab developed in the UK, and the Janssen vaccine developed in Belgium,” says the BBC. “It uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body.”
  • According to the study authors, further research is necessary to understand Sputnik V’s effectiveness when it comes to asymptomatic cases and transmission.
  • However, it appears that Russians themselves are reluctant to avail of the vaccine.

We hope this has helped in your understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s remember that at the end of the day, the best vaccine is the one in your arm. Do not wait for a specific brand to be made available—act to protect yourself and your family right now. Stay safe and healthy, Belo Beauties!

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