How Oxford, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines compare – and which is best

With three different companies behind each, there are rumoured to be more jabs on the way, with Novavax – an American based vaccine company, reported to have made a potential fourth but this will not be in use before advanced approval measures by vaccine governing bodies.

When analysing the ones already in circulation, the UK was the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine back in early December.

Shortly after, Brian Pinker became the first Brit to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at Oxford University Hospital.

Given the fact that the Pfizer vaccine was the first to be approved and in use, it is the first vaccine that is now approaching its second dosage stage, with millions of people across the country having already received their vital first jab.

As it stands, the Pfizer vaccine & the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are the only two available, as though the Moderna jab has been approved it is being manufactured in the US and will take months before it is available for distribution in Europe.

A fifth Covid vaccine could be made available to the UK pending approval, which could help drastically turn the tide on this virus. Developed by Johnson & Johnson, their jab only needs one dosage, unlike the others which require two, and in turn could help speed up the vaccination process.

Which vaccine is the best?

When comparing solely the two vaccines available to the British public currently, Experts claim it is hard to determine if one is better than the other due to differing factors such as how each company trials its vaccine.

What we do know, is that both jabs have high rates of efficacy as well as both requiring two does for full protection.

Which jab is more efficient?

The rate of efficacy varies depending on how many doses an individual has had. For example, the Oxford jab has proved to have a 62.1% efficacy when one dose is followed by another full dose.

However, data shows that when people were given half a dose, followed by a full dose after one month, the rate of efficacy rose to 90%.

When combining the research from both studies surrounding the Oxford vaccine, it is safe to say it provides 70.4% protection.

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The Pfizer vaccine has a higher rate of efficacy, with the jab proving to be 95% effective.

Pfizer was the first out of the gate when it came to completing its phase three trials, and a spokesperson for the company said: “Although some protection from the vaccine appears to begin after the first dose (52 per cent), the information for healthcare professionals approved by the UK regulator (the MHRA) states that, individuals may not be protected until at least 7 days after their second dose of the same vaccine.

"Two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart are required to provide the maximum protection and this correlates with the level of neutralising antibodies."

The Moderna vaccine is reported to be 94% effective.

Which jab is more expensive?

Though the makers of both jabs have already said they will not aim to sell the vaccine for profit and will make it readily available to all countries, the Pfizer jab is a tad more expensive to produce than its Oxford/AstraZeneca counterpart.

The Oxford jab is estimated to cost around £3 to make, while Pfizer’s sits at around £15.

The Oxford Jab has the advantage of being stored at room temperature, while Pfizer’s has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 before immunisation.

How does each vaccine work?

The vaccine used by Oxford/AstraZeneca uses a harmless, weakened version of a common virus which often causes a cold among chimpanzees.

This technology has been used countless times before in the fights against varying viruses such as Zika and flu.

The vaccine then genetically alters the virus so that it is impossible for it to grow inside the human body.

Scientists have transferred the genetic instructions for coronavirus's specific "spike protein" – what the virus uses to invade cells – to the vaccine.

This means when the jab enters the body, it sparks an immune response, readying the body’s immune system to attack the strands of COVID-19 that are so harmful when they enter the body.

Out of 43,000 volunteers, Pfizer’s trials came back with findings of 170 cases of the disease, 162 were observed in the placebo arm and eight were in the vaccine group.

Of the 10 people within the trial that developed severe COVID-19, just one had actually received the vaccine. The trial concluded with very few side effects shown, the main one being fatigue which was reported by 3.8% of recipients post second-dose.

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