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What We Know So Far About the COVID-19 Vaccines From Pfizer, Moderna

The two vaccines differ in terms of their storage requirements.

For the past eight months, experts have been doing everything they can to fast-track the creation of a vaccine against COVID-19. It comes as cases have already reached 55 million worldwide, and deaths are now at 1.33 million.

And in the past few days, two pharmaceutical corporations have already announced that their vaccines that are nearing completion were found to have high effectivity rates when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. (Read: How Close Are We to Finding a COVID-19 Vaccine?)

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

Just last week, Pfizer announced that the vaccine candidate that they developed together with BioNTech SE, has been found to be “more than 90% effective” in the third phase of the trials. Tests have already been conducted on 43,538 individuals as of writing, where a number are from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Currently, the two corporations are continuously conducting important tests and preparing the necessary documents for submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are looking to produce up to 50 million vaccines globally by the end of the year, and up to 1.3 billion by 2021. (Read: COVID-19 May Cause Heart Injuries, Studies Suggest)

However, concerns are already being raised about the Pfizer/BioNTech SE vaccine as it is being foreseen to be a “logistical nightmare” for sellers and buyers. According to reports, the vaccine needs to be kept at a freezing temperature of -70˚C, making it difficult to distribute across different countries worldwide.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

Scientist Xinhua Yan works in the lab at Moderna in Cambridge, MA on Feb. 28, 2020. (Photo by David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images / BBC)

But recently, another candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine was announced. On Monday, November 16, another pharmaceutical giant, Moderna, reported that the vaccine they developed was almost 95% effective.

“I don’t think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, that was really a stunning realization,” Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge said. (Read: Cardinal Tagle Opens up About COVID-19 Experience)

The Moderna vaccine, compared to the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate, would not need specialized storage as it only needs to be stored at a temperature of -20˚C (-4˚F), which some vaccines like the chickenpox vaccine also requires. According to Moderna chief medical officer Dr. Zal Tacks, this would be more practical as storages and freezers already in doctors’ offices and pharmacies can cater to this temperature.

Another advantage of the Moderna vaccine is that it can be stored for 30 days in the refrigerator, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech one which can only be left for five days in storage. This would make it possible for far-flung areas to be reached by doctors and be given the vaccine. (Read: 5 Pinay Beauty Queens Who Are Leading the Fight Against COVID-19)

The company is looking to produce 20 million doses of the vaccine for the US in the coming weeks, after it receives the go signal from regulators. By next year, Moderna is hoping to produce one billion doses globally.

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