According to the World Health Organization, at least seven different vaccines have been rolled out in various countries around the world as of February this year, with over 200 additional vaccine candidates in development, of which more than 60 are in clinical development.
In Qatar, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are currently being rolled out via a phased national vaccination programme, giving priorities first to frontline healthcare workers and the most vulnerable sectors.
Four types of COVID-19 vaccine
There are four main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are all aimed to protect people from coronavirus. Primarily, developers of these vaccines are trying to achieve at least two important goals – to render immunity and to stop transmission.
- Whole virus. If a vaccine is created from a whole virus, it means that either an inactivated virus or a weakened virus is used to trigger the body’s response.
Protein subunit. A protein subunit vaccine is taken from the coronavirus protein ‘spikes’ and used to trigger an immune response from the body.
Nucleic acid. This vaccine uses genetic material – either RNA or DNA – to provide cells with the instructions to make the antigen.
Viral vector. Viral vector vaccines work by giving cells genetic instructions to produce antigens using a harmless virus, different from the one the vaccine is targeting, to deliver instructions into the cell.
So far, none of the vaccines available has fully achieved the two main goals. All, however, provide protection from severe ailment and death.
Because of limited availability, people are also given limited options to pick a COVID-19 vaccine of their choice. This list of vaccines is collated to provide basic information about the different options available.
Sources: WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Vaccine Alliance
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