After the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner, the German biotechnology company BioNTech, announced in a statement, Monday, that their experimental vaccine to prevent Covid-19 disease is more than 90% effective, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Health said that The Russian “Sputnik V” vaccine against Covid-19 is more than 90% effective, so which of the two vaccines will prevail and take precedence in ridding humanity of the emerging corona virus?
“We are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccine (Sputnik V) among citizens who received doses of it as part of the group vaccination program,” Oksana Drapkina, director of a research institute affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Health, said in a statement. “Its effectiveness is more than 90% based on our observations, and as for the emergence of another effective vaccine … this is good news for everyone,” she added.
Al-Jazeera website reviews the details of the two vaccines: the American, the German, and the Russian, as well as concerns and questions about them:
The name of the vaccine is “BNT162b2” (BNT162b2).
US drugmaker Pfizer and its partner, the German biotech company, Biontech. The third and final phase of clinical trials on the new vaccine began at the end of July, with the participation of 43,538 people so far, and the two companies intend to provide data on the complete third phase trials for scientists to review.
How it works?
The BNT162B2 vaccine is based on mRNA, a new approach to protecting against infection with the virus.
Unlike conventional vaccines, which train the body to recognize and kill the proteins that produce pathogenic factors, “MRNA” fools the patient’s immune system into making him produce virus proteins by himself, and these proteins are harmless; But it is sufficient to provide a strong immune response.
Is it safe?
The two companies said they had not yet found serious safety concerns, and this month they expected to obtain US permission to use the vaccine in emergency situations.
According to a statement from Pfizer, no serious safety concerns were noted.
The statement added that the study indicates that the vaccine’s effectiveness rate is higher than 90%, 7 days after the second dose, and this means that protection is achieved after 28 days from the start of vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule.
The company added that “based on current expectations, we expect to produce up to 50 million doses of vaccine globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.”
How long does the vaccine protect?
Ugur Shaheen, CEO of Biontech, told Reuters that he is optimistic that the vaccination effect of the vaccine will last for a year, although this is not yet confirmed.
Pfizer and Biontech said that the initial results of the third phase of the clinical trials showed protection for patients 7 days after the second dose of the vaccine and 28 days after the first dose.
“The efficacy data is really impressive,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.
Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of Oxford, said the Pfizer announcement “marks a turning point” in the pandemic.
What are the concerns?
Some scientists welcomed the BNT162B2 vaccine with caution, and Michael Head, a senior public health researcher at the University of Southampton in England, said, “It is an excellent result of a first-generation vaccine.”
But some others expected significant logistical problems in delivering the vaccine to everyone, especially as it should be kept very cold, and it would need two doses to support immunity.
Ian Hamilton, an assistant professor of addiction at York University, wrote inThe Independent“(Independent) about the Pfizer vaccine and some questions and difficulties. For example, the vaccine should be given in two doses, so 30 million doses would suffice for 15 million people.
Also, there will be difficult decisions about who will take priority, and who will be excluded. Although it may seem clear that some groups are prioritized, such as NHS frontline personnel and individuals at risk; However, there are no guarantees at this stage.
He adds that Pfizer says that the data for the third phase of the trial show that the vaccine is 90% effective, although this is impressive. However, it still means that 1 in 10 will not be protected, and the problem is we don’t know if Pfizer is able to predict who will not respond to the drug.
The practical logistics of supplying and distributing this vaccine also seem difficult as you can imagine, as the drug must be stored at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius, and this also will pose a challenge to the manufacture of this vaccine on a large scale.
Hamilton also said that this vaccine is given in two doses 3 weeks apart, and compliance with this will also be difficult, as people forget follow-up appointments or misunderstand the need for a second dose.
Hamilton also cautioned, “We don’t know how long this vaccine provides immunity.” The study was based on the formation of immunity in 28 days, and it is clear that if the immunity is limited to that period of time, then the vaccine will have limited benefit.
Russian Coronavirus Vaccine
What is the name of the vaccine?
The name of the vaccine is Sputnik (Sputnik V).
How are you?
The vaccine was developed by the Gamalia National Center for Research in Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia, and the center was established as a private laboratory in 1891, and as of 1949 it bears the name of Nikolai Gamalia, the pioneer of Russian microbiology research.
The vaccine obtained a registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11, and it can be used to vaccinate the population in Russia under the rules approved during the pandemic period, and it is planned to increase production of the vaccine in Russia and around the world.
How it works?
Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenoviruses platform that works on adenovirus vectors.
The “vectors” are pregnant women who can deliver the genetic material from another virus to the cell, and the genetic material for the adenovirus that causes the infection is removed, while a gene carrying a code for a protein from another virus enters the current state of the Coronavirus, and this new element is safe for the body; But it helps the immune system respond and produce the antibodies that protect the body from infection.
The technology platform for vectors based on adenoviruses facilitates and accelerates the creation of new vaccines by modifying the original carrier-carrier with genetic material from the new viruses that appear, which allows obtaining new vaccines within short periods of time, and these vaccines cause a strong response on the part of the human immune system.
Human adenoviruses are among the easiest and simplest to modify, and therefore their spread as vectors has expanded, according to The Sputnik Vaccine Site at.
Is it safe?
According to the official vaccine website, before the commencement of clinical tests, the vaccine completely passed all pre-clinical stages, in terms of efficacy and safety, and this included experiments on various types of laboratory animals, including two primates.
The first and second phases of clinical testing were concluded on August 1, 2020, and all volunteers passed the tests well, and no unexpected, dangerous or unwanted phenomena were recorded.
Post-registration studies for the Sputnik vaccine were launched in with the participation of more than 40,000 people in Russia and Belarus on August 25, 2020. A number of countries will also join the studies.
How long does the vaccine protect?
According to previous statements by the Russian Ministry of Health, the double vaccination “will allow the formation of a prolonged immunity that may last” two years “.
What are the concerns?
According to a report published in The Magazine Lancet“(The Lancet) Medical The design of the first human trial of the Sputnik vaccine has sparked criticism. The report quoted Shanna Cruikshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, UK, that the results of the study on the Sputnik V vaccine overestimate the effects of the treatment.
On the other hand, and despite his lack of knowledge of quality control or quality assurance details for Sputnik, vaccinologist Peter Hotz of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA sees remarkable advantages in the Russian vaccine, as Sputnik’s freeze-dried formula is very similar to the smallpox vaccine that Developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, this allows the vaccine to be transported to remote locations.
The tolerability of the vaccine is also comparable to other adenovirus vaccines, although the total levels of equivalent antibody to the virus are not high even with the two doses; However, they are similar to some other “adenovirus vectored vaccines”.
In conclusion, the coming days will reveal to us who will have the lead in defeating the emerging corona virus, and ridding humanity of this fearful epidemic.