News/Op-Ed: A Breakdown Of The COVID-19 Vaccine Race, What Companies Are Leading The Race And What Problems Can The Vaccine Create In A Changing Society?

by Pedro Ochoa

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is on its final laps. The main goal for the world is to find a vaccine as soon as possible. 

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As for the drug making companies, their future relies on if they can be the first ones to produce the vaccine. Many big known companies are making a lot of progress to make the best vaccine possible, while some are falling behind. 

With the race coming to an end, there are still a few questions to be answered. Will the race slim down even more? Will a big name company fall behind? Will a small name company come into the running? And, which company will prevail to get a massive paycheck?

From the beginning of the pandemic, many have looked to the promise of a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19. Vaccines typically take years to develop before they ultimately reach the market, but given the pandemic’s urgency, progress is being made much more rapidly.

When candidate vaccines make it to human clinical trials, they must go through three phases. The first two stages have already been tested by two major companies. The final stage, Phase 3, involves tens of thousands of people, to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccine and test whether there are any rare side effects that only show up in large groups. 

Moderna and Pfizer, two of the biggest drug companies in this race, exceeded expectations. When looking at the vaccines and what is to come from them including the effectiveness, side effects, and many more, there are still a few big questions to be answered. Here is a slightly more in-depth look at the two big named candidate vaccines in the final phases of trials and close they are to the finish line.

Readiness: 

While Pfizer and its partner BioNTech claimed that its COVID-19 shot is over 90 percent effective, Moderna claimed that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective.

Side-effects:

Moderna in its claim said the side-effects of the vaccine were short-lived, and that no significant safety concerns were reported. Pfizer has not said anything specific about the side-effects.

Commonness:

Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines rely on a technology called messenger RNA. The approach is designed to transform the human body’s own cells into vaccine-making factories. The vaccines instruct cells to make copies of the spike protein of the novel coronavirus, stimulating the creation of protective antibodies.

Financial Assistance:

Though Pfizer didn’t receive any federal funding to develop its vaccine, its partner BioNTech received the German government’s assistance of 375 million euros ($444 million). The pharma firm has inked a deal with the US administration for supply agreement of nearly $2 billion.

Meanwhile, Moderna has received financial assistance from the US Operation Warp Speed programme, and the US administration has agreed to purchase Moderna vaccine for up to $1.53 billion.

Dateline for Deployment:

Both Moderna and Pfizer are expected to seek emergency-use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. While Moderna could seek clearance from regulators in the coming weeks, Pfizer expects to get two months of safety follow-up data in the third week in November. If all goes well, Pfizer could apply for an authorization in the US this month.

Challenges:

Despite the claims by both the firms of COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness, concerns on long protection from virus and people volunteering for vaccination remain at large. Increasing production, availability, and distribution are other key concerns.

These are the two big name companies that are almost at the finish line for this big vaccine that is desperately needed. However, there are over 40 more companies that are in the long race for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As 2021 nears, there are still many questions to be answered by the creators of the future COVID-19 vaccine company. The goal for the big two companies is to release the vaccine by the end of the year. Can it happen? They have been pushing the release for months now, and as cases rise, the more needed are the vaccines. Although the world is needing a vaccine as soon as possible, the company that wins the race can be in for a big pay day. 

Who will win this huge race to save humanity from this global pandemic?

When will the first vaccine be released to the world?

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