Multiple good news on Covid-19 vaccines

News from the UK is that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine appears to be at least 70% effective:

“The announcement today takes us another step closer to the time when we can use vaccines to bring an end to the devastation caused by [the virus],” said the vaccine’s architect, Prof Sarah Gilbert.”

That is good news that comes shortly after the announcement from the US that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could be 90% effective:

“The developers – Pfizer and BioNTech – described it as a “great day for science and humanity”.
Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.”

What is doubly good is these two vaccines have been developed using completely different principles and work in quite different ways. There are disadvantages to both but in ways that are distinctly different.

As I understand it, the Oxford vaccine uses a different virus (one that causes colds in chimps) to deliver a key protein from the covid coronavirus to provoke our immune system into creating the needed antibodies. A similar vaccine is also under development in Russia and is also showing success

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and a similar one being developed by Moderna ( ) uses a more novel technique, exploiting messenger RNA. The use of mRNA potentially opens up faster and more adaptable vaccine development in general.

“Vaccines train the immune system to recognize the disease-causing part of a virus. Vaccines traditionally contain either weakened viruses or purified signature proteins of the virus.

But an mRNA vaccine is different, because rather than having the viral protein injected, a person receives genetic material – mRNA – that encodes the viral protein. When these genetic instructions are injected into the upper arm, the muscle cells translate them to make the viral protein directly in the body.

This approach mimics what the SARS-CoV-2 does in nature – but the vaccine mRNA codes only for the critical fragment of the viral protein. This gives the immune system a preview of what the real virus looks like without causing disease. This preview gives the immune system time to design powerful antibodies that can neutralize the real virus if the individual is ever infected.”

An added advantage for the mRNA vaccines is that it can be produced without a biological step. Apparently the challenge for mRNA vaccine development has been finding ways of keeping the mRNA sufficiently stable that vaccines can be produced en-masse. While those hurdles have been overcome, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at very cold temperatures and degrades within days even at normal fridge temperatures.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is more conventional and much easier to store. It is also easier to manufacture as it uses existing processes and will be much cheaper than the mRNA based vaccines.

Meanwhile, there are multiple other vaccines for covid-19 under development. This table from a PubMed article in June, has a good overview of the variety of types of vaccines under development.

13 responses to “Multiple good news on Covid-19 vaccines”

  1. If I have a choice, I would prefer the Oxford vaccine with older tech less likely to have unknown side effects in five years. But probably there won’t be a choice, it’ll be whatever is available.


  2. I’m seeing a lot of scepticism and fears about possible side effects of the Biontech/Pfizer RNA vaccine. Not to mention that it needs to be stored at very low temperatures, which means that you can’t get the vaccination at your doctor, but have to go to some kind of vaccination centre.

    So I suspect that when given the choice a lot of people will opt for Oxford/AstraZeneca’s vaccine, even if it is less effective.

    In Germany, they will be vaccinating, medical personnel, police officers, teachers, etc… as well as high risk groups first anyway (which I’m perfectly fine with), so by the time I get vaccine, possible side effects will be much better known.


      • Some people seem to have confused RNA with DNA and are worried about genetic manipulation, which is nonsense, of course.

        Others are worried about autoimmune issues and other side effects, which is a more legitimate worry. Also, in Germany, people still remember the swine flu vaccine, which was manufactured in a rush and caused serious side effects and autoimmune issues in quite a few people.


      • Genetic manipulation? Smart people are worried about the nanobots that Bill Gates is slipping into the vaccine.

        Did I say smart people? I’m sorry, I mean delusional people. My bad.


  3. I think all countries are going to vaccinate health workers and high risk groups first.

    Also, I always thought Dolly Parton was a national treasure, and the fact that she donated $1M to the effort lifts her to international treasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I would happily take any approved vaccine. (Probably the higher effectiveness one if I had the choice)


  5. All good news but those of use not living in the West will probably have to wait a while before we get our mitts on a dose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oxford/AstraZeneca are supposedly offering their vaccine at 3 USD a dose or so to developing countries. Though Turkey is definitely not a developing country, even if no one quite knows whether it counts as part of the West (NATO member) or not.


      • Yes, that’s a great initiative by the Oxford group. I imagine logistics and production will take some time and there will be a priority order though.


  6. I’d be happy to take either vaccine, but I’m somewhat concerned about the RNA vaccine degrading before it is injected—that wouldn’t be directly harmful, but the patient would have no way of knowing they had received an ineffective dose.

    I frequently work with RNA in my professional life, and it requires great attention to detail. The enzymes that digest RNA are extremely stable, ubiquitous in the environment, and very good at what they do.

    Liked by 1 person

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