AstraZeneca vs. Pfizer vs. Modern COVID-19 vaccine

  • AstraZeneca COVID-19 has been approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom, India and Mexico.
  • Unlike its competitors, AstraZeneca is a modified version of the common cold virus that spreads among chimpanzees.
  • It is the first vaccine of its kind to be approved for human use, but other companies are developing similar technology to fight COVID-19.

    The UK became the first country to approve the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on December 30, just weeks after Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates were given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The approval is another promising sign in the introduction of global immunization – especially because this option, developed by the University of Oxford and the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, could be key to reaching people in rural and underfunded areas.

    Unlike its competitors, AstraZeneca COVID-19 can be stored at higher temperatures, costs less per dose, and uses other technology to immunize humans. Although vaccination has not yet been authorized in the United States, it may reach armed states in February at the earliest, The New York Times reports. Here’s what we know so far about vaccination and how it comes together against Pfizer and Moderna.

    How does AstraZeneca COVID-19 work?

    Vaccination with AstraZeneca uses adenovirus vector technology. Translation: This is a harmless, modified version of a common cold virus that usually only spreads among chimpanzees. This altered virus cannot get sick, but it carries a gene from the spike protein of the new coronavirus, the part of the virus that triggers the immune response. This allows the immune system to produce antibodies that work against COVID-19 and teach your body how to react when infected.

    In other words, the AstraZeneca vaccine mimics a COVID-19 infection, without its life-threatening side effects, in the company’s release. The researchers chose the chimpanzee adenovirus as simple: Yes, for the modified virus new for vaccinated people – otherwise the body will not produce those antibodies that are important in all respects. Anyone may already have antibodies to the common cold in humans, but far fewer chimpanzees were exposed to the common cold.

    Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, meanwhile, rely on mRNA technology, which essentially introduces a genetic code that causes the body to produce COVID-19 antibodies, no virus is needed. All three vaccinations require two shots, about a month apart. Although no adenovirus vector vaccines have previously been approved for human use, Johnson & Johnson, CanSino and NantKwest are all working on their own versions.

    How does AstraZeneca compare to Moderna and Pfizer?

    Storage and distribution

    The AstraZeneca vaccine is the easiest to transport so far – it can be stored for up to six months at normal refrigerator temperatures between 36 and 46 ° F. The Moderna and Pfizer options should be stored at zero temperature until ready for use at -4 ° F and -94 ° F. (MRNA technology is relatively fragile compared to adenovirus vector technology, meaning it must be kept at a much lower temperature to remain efficient and stable.)

    The higher storage temperature of AstraZeneca can make distribution much easier. – Clinic, nursing home or even [regional] there may not be freezers in the health departments that can store things at -94 ° F, ”says Kawsar Talaat, MD, infectious disease doctor, vaccine researcher, and assistant professor in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins University. The use of a typical refrigerator “leaves time for distribution, allows the vaccine to reach more rural areas, [and allows vaccines] to be kept in a clinic for an extended period of time. “

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    It also beats its competitors with the prices of the new vaccine: AstraZeneca’s vaccination will cost service providers about $ 4 per serving, while Pfizer will cost $ 20 and Moderna will cost $ 33, Al Jazeera writes. These prices are likely to fluctuate over time and as vaccinations evolve.


    The efficacy of the two mRNA vaccines is mild; both Pfizer and Moderna report that it is approximately 95% effective against COVID-19 after the second enrollment in clinical trials, while AstraZeneca is on average 70% and up to 90% when the dose is adjusted. (By comparison, annual influenza vaccination is usually effective at 40 to 60% per CDC.)

    Side effects

    The side effects of all three vaccines are similar, including possible pain at the injection site and flu-like symptoms, including fever, tiredness, headache and muscle aches, which should be expected when preparing the immune system.

    Which COVID-19 vaccine is best?

    There is no “best” vaccination option as there is not enough research to confirm this. Vaccines are not silver bullets, especially that the epidemic is raging: They need to be combined with masks, hand washing and social distancing to make them work as effectively as possible, according to the CDC. No matter which COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you first, you can be sure that it can protect you, as long as you remain cautious, as long as positive cases, hospital care and deaths across the country are significantly reduced.

    In the meantime, it is likely that “all manufacturers are working to make their vaccines more stable at easier-to-handle temperatures,” explains Dr. Talaat. As formulations change, so do their pros and cons.

    For now, we can be thankful that AstraZeneca vaccination is approaching customs clearance worldwide. “The next generation of vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca, which is kept at refrigerator temperature, is a significant step forward,” says Dr. Talaat. “When it comes to spreading around the world, it’s much easier to do that because we already keep vaccines cold. It’s a lot harder to keep things frozen.

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