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With multiple COVID-19 vaccines close to the finish line, what’s the difference?

COVID-19 vaccines created using gene technology

Dr. Steven Smith is the Chief Scientific Officer at AdventHealth, the company is participating in the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine trials. He said Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are similar.

“Those are both viruses that have been edited to show a little bit of the coronavirus on the outside but the virus is dead, not a live virus,” Smith said.

AstraZeneca has announced its vaccine is up to 90% effective. Janssen is in the third phase of the trial that measures efficacy.

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Moderna and Pfizer have announced its COVID-19 vaccines are about 95% effective. Smith said using messenger RNA technology has allowed these vaccines to be created faster than others.

“They took a piece of RNA that’s inside the virus, they copied it out and synthesized it, and that is given to the person with a shot and produces a protein that the immune system responds to,” said Smith.

mRNA technology is so new that there hasn’t been an mRNA vaccine approved by the Federal Drug Administration yet.

Storage is also something that sets these vaccines apart. AstraZeneca may be the easiest to transport, needing to be stored around 8°C, about the temperature of a refrigerator. Moderna and Janssen vaccines must be stored at -20°C, which is close to the temperature of a standard freezer. Pfizer, on the other hand must be stored at a frigid -70°C. That’s colder than the North Pole.

“That poses some challenges. While the lab can keep that temperature, what about the entire supply chain and distribution? If you want to do field administration and mass dissemination of vaccines, then having that requirement of having it that cold can be a challenge,” said ER Physician Dr. Latha Ganti.

Pfizer has already applied for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, and could be rolling out their first round of vaccines in weeks.

For those who are immunocompromised or cannot take a vaccine, AdventHealth is in the early stages of an alternative approach involving antibodies.

“For vaccines, you expose the body to just a little bit of a protein from the virus. In this case, you give somebody an antibody and it’s either through an IV or a shot in the derriere of antibodies, to try to prevent the development of COVID-19 for people who are at high-risk,” said Dr. Smith.

AdventHealth will be enrolling candidates for its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine trials through Christmas. For more information and to find out if you qualify to be a candidate, visitadventhealthvaccinetrials.com.


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