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Your field guide to the four potential COVID-19 vaccines

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Photo: M-Photo (Shutterstock)

It has been a busy month for coronavirus vaccine news. IIn the last few weeks, we have seen announcements of preliminary Phase 3 trial results, final Phase 3 trial results, an FDA application and Phase 2 results. After my count, there are five news events about three vaccines. It’s a little confusing.

Currently, four vaccine candidates are being tested in trials that allow them to apply for FDA approval. (A fifth, Novovax, plans to launch U.S. try soon) New York Times vaccine tracker currently counts 13 vaccines in Phase 3 trials worldwide. (Phase 3 is last and largest test round before a vaccine is approved.)

The four vaccines tested in the U.S. are all a little different from one oneOther things. Some require ultra cold storage. Some require two doses instead of one. Some are mRNA vaccines, a new technology. Hbefore it is an overview of which and which occupation.

Pfizer / BioNTech

Type of vaccine: mRNA

Status: This is the vaccine that is closest to receiving FDA approval. The companies construct it released final results from their Phase 3 trials this week shows 95% efficacy even though the full data from the trials have not been released to the public. The companies applied to the FDA today for permission for emergency use. FDA advisors meet Dec. 8-10 to make this decision, after reviewing the experimental data.

Storage: This vaccine requires ultra-cold storage, colder than typical freezers can provide.

Required doses: tWhere.


Type of vaccine: mRNA

Status: Still in phase 3 trials. Temporary results showed 94.5% efficiency, says the company.

Storage: Can remain at freezing temperature for six months and refrigerator temperature for one month.

Required doses: thaw.

Fun fact: Dolly Parton contributed to a research fund involved in the development of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca / Oxford

Type of vaccine: based on a chimpanzee-cold virus that cannot reproduce in humans and has been modified to carry a coronavirus protein.

Status: The company recently published preliminary results from a combined phase 2 and 3 trial. The trial was originally scheduled for the end of September, but was put on hold after a participant had experienced one serious medical problem and another died. An investigation determined that these events were does not related to the vaccineand the experiments could be resumed.

Storage: standard freezing temperature.

Required doses: thaw.

Johnson & Johnson

Type of vaccine: based on a human cold virus which has been modified not to replicate and to carry a coronavirus protein.

Status: This is also in phase 3. Trials have recently resumed after a brief description break due to a participant’s illness.

Storage: standard refrigerator temperature.

Required doses: one, although the company is also testing a two-dose regimen.

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