By: Evan Whatley
The COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the world and the United States over the last year. The pandemic has vastly changed the lives of almost everyone on the planet. After the challenges of 2020 and the struggles of overcoming the nationwide pandemic, there tends to be belief that the return to normalcy is trending upwards. News of a COVID-19 vaccine being approved by the FDA and released in December of 2020 has given hope for regularity.
Pharmaceutical company, Pfizer and Biotech company, Biontech were the first to release a vaccine, while a couple weeks later Biotech company, Moderna released their coronavirus vaccine. Both vaccines used the mRNA method, which provides the genetic code for our cells to produce viral proteins. Once the proteins, which don't cause disease, are produced, the body launches an immune response against the virus, enabling the person to develop immunity. Glenelg Senior, Gavin Cronkite believes, “the more vaccinations available can ultimately help out in any way possible.” Both vaccines require two doses for each patient.
The two vaccines are similar in method, however there are a multitude of differences. The Pfizer vaccine has been studied within the age range of 16 and 89 years old, whereas the Moderna vaccine has been studied 18 to 64 years old. Glenelg Senior, Derek Spratley claims, “They have tested and studied a wide range age gap, and luckily I am part of that age gap, I’m hoping I can get the vaccine sooner or later.” 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine a second dose is required and 28 days after the Moderna vaccine the second dose is required. The dosages vary as the Pfizer vaccine is only 30 micrograms, while the Moderna vaccine requires a dosage of 100 micrograms. Glenelg Junior, Andrew Brown said, “Although the two vaccines have its differences the dosage difference is very obscure and stands out.” The Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy of 94.1 percent while the Moderna has a 95 percent efficacy.
A large challenge within the vaccine is the shipment process. The Pfizer vaccine is required to be shipped and stored at -94 degrees fahrenheit, whereas the Moderna vaccine only requires a -4 degrees fahrenheit temperature while being shipped. Another pharmaceutical company, Astrazenca, working in part with Oxford is developing a vaccine without the need of being frozen. The prevention of having to ship and store the vaccine in such cold temperatures will prevent the expenses of buying and using dry ice for each shipment. Keeping the vaccine at such low temperature levels creates a high difficulty of storing and shipping the vaccine and proves very costly. Not only do the shipment trucks have to store the vaccine at such low temperatures, so do the hospitals who must have enough space and storage for the freezers needed. With little storage to hold the vaccine, challenges in possessing a large number of vaccines to be used is upheld.
While these challenges may stand, the two vaccines provide high efficacy and give hope that the future of a COVID-19-less earth is trending upwards. The vaccines are becoming more readily available to the public as frontline workers, healthcare workers, assisted living, retired community and 75 plus community members have already been allowed usage. Glenelg Senior, Connor Iannarino stated, “I just want a sense of normalcy back, if I can get the vaccine and everyone else can, maybe we can go back to normal soon.” Within the ensuing months there is hope the vaccines will be readily available for all people. Healthcare officials believe the pandemic can subside if over 70 percent of the population is vaccinated and herd immunity is developed.