Building confidence in COVID-19 vaccination within society is critical to setting expectations, ensuring vaccine uptake, and helping protect our communities. Vaccine confidence may seem like a vague concept, but there are concrete things that we can do to foster it and help make it visible so that people feel confident getting vaccinated.
By mid-December 2020, 57 vaccine candidates were in clinical research, 40 in Phase I–II trials and 17 in Phase II–III trials. In Phase III trials, several COVID-19 vaccines demonstrated efficacy as high as 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections. National regulatory authorities have approved six vaccines for public use: two RNA vaccines, two conventionalinactivatedvaccines, and two viral vector vaccines
There are many concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, given that they use new technology and have been developed quickly. Two vaccines were receive Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the FDA: One is produced by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other is produced by Moderna. Manufacturer data from the Phase 3 trials demonstrated that both vaccines were approximately 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease.
Many people are wondering about messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines, given that they are a relatively new technology. Here are a few key facts:To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein piece serves as an antigen to trigger an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected when the real virus enters our bodies.
It’s important to note, however, that the mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus, so it does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. This is a common myth about mRNA vaccines. mRNA in COVID-19 vaccine does not interact with DNA.
One advantage of mRNA vaccines is that they are not produced using infectious antigens. The vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19.
While there are no currently licensed vaccines using mRNA technology, this technology has been studied for decades in vaccine trials for influenza, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus. Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.
Many people want more information about the vaccine trials that led to the release of the COVID-19 vaccines that are available now. More than 43,000 volunteers were enrolled in Phase 3 of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial. These volunteers received the first dose of the vaccine. The vaccine trials are being conducted at approximately 150 sites domestically and internationally. More than 30,000 volunteers were enrolled in Phase 3 of the Moderna COVE COVID-19 vaccine trial. These volunteers received the first dose of the vaccine. The vaccine trials are being conducted at approximately 100 sites across the United States.
Both vaccines are well-tolerated and the clinical trials did not reveal any significant safety concerns. However, mRNA vaccines are expected to produce side effects after vaccination, especially after the 2nd dose. These may include fever, headache, and muscle aches. These are similar to side effects you may experience after other adult vaccines like the flu vaccine and the shingles vaccine.
Many people have been wondering how COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly without sacrificing safety. There are a few ways: Researchers used existing clinical trial networks, like those thatstudy HIV treatments and vaccines, to begin quickly conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials. Another critical piece has been the investment in manufacturing, even before COVID-19 vaccines have been proven effective. The U.S. government and vaccine manufacturers have invested millions of dollars to scale up vaccine production while clinical trials have been in progress, greatly reducing the amount of time between vaccine authorization and vaccine implementation. Because of the great financial risk, the investment in manufacturing normally doesn’t happen until later in the development process. mRNA vaccines are also faster to produce than traditional vaccines.