The Race for the Vaccine

Katelyn Pinkham, staff writer

Countries all around the world are racing to get a safe and successful vaccine out for the public. 

Production of the COVID-19 vaccine has been underway since the very beginning of the spread. Many companies and businesses have been testing vaccines and working towards the end goal of a successful one. 

“There might be a vaccine by the end of the year, but it probably won’t be available worldwide until 2021,” said Morgan Morquette, a junior.

Moderna, an American biotechnology company that focuses on drug discovery, drug development, and vaccine technologies, announced that a Phase 3 trial shows their COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective at preventing the virus. According to Elizabeth Cohen, senior medical correspondent for CNN’s Health, Moderna conducted a clinical trial of 30,000 participants, with half receiving the vaccine and half receiving a placebo, which is a shot of saline that does nothing. There were 95 instances of COVID-19 illness among the study participants; only five of those cases were in the vaccinated group. The results indicate the vaccine was inducing the kind of immune response that protects people if they were exposed to COVID-19.

With the U.S. being the country with the highest casualties, I could only assume we’d get the vaccine out first, or the country of origin of the virus,” said Jance Guinn, a junior.

Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, reported that its COVID-19 vaccine was 95 percent effective and had no serious side effects. The data from its large scale vaccine trial shows their vaccine prevents mild and severe forms of the virus. As stated by Katie Thomas, a reporter for the New York Times who focuses on healthcare and the drug industry, it was 94 percent effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines. Pfizer, paired with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company that develops and manufactures active immunotherapies, said they plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization within days.

“The next challenges will be to efficiently manufacture and distribute the vaccines, and to convince a skeptical public that the vaccines are effective and safe,” said Robert Reisener, a physics teacher.

Emergency authorization is not the same as full approval of the vaccine. It just means that people who take the vaccine before full approval from the FDA will receive a list of potential benefits and risks before going through with their decision. About 25 million vaccines may become available for U.S. use in December, 30 million in January and 35 million more in February and March, according to information presented to the National Academy of Medicine this week.