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The Vaccine Race

Commotion rose as numerous COVID-19 vaccine brands such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac were introduced to the public. Amidst this, one question constantly creeps upon the minds of most: Which of the eight brands really leads the race against COVID-19?

To be able to answer that query, one would need to weigh their priorities in defining what ‘best’ means for them. Would it be one that exceeds the other over the terms of cost, efficacy, or convenience? Or perhaps, would one like to look at its standing over-all?

Who wins in cost?

Data from Senator Sonny Angara’s Office

According to the data released by the Senate committee on finance chair Sonny Angara, in terms of price point, the least expensive vaccine would be Novavax vaccines while the most expensive would be Moderna vaccines. This was based on the seven double dose vaccine brands that were the primary choices for the Filipinos. However, choosing which vaccine would be deemed overall best would have to rely on other factors, not just low cost.

The Newbie Game Changer

On February 27, news about the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine spread as they announced that the U. S. Food and Drug Administration Allowed them to attain an Emergency Use Authorization.

This signified the availability of a one-time dose against COVID-19. The lack of a second dose would cease the need for a 28-day waiting period between the two shots which the previously introduced vaccines required.

Time is of the essence, and this accelerated process would be desirable in getting the most people fully vaccinated in the least amount of time. However, nothing is created to perfection, as demonstrated by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine having the Achilles heel of efficacy.

The Fight for Efficacy

Moderna vaccines may come at a hefty price point, but it does walk the talk as it shows 95 percent efficacy in preventing COVID-19, sharing the lead with the Pfizer vaccine. Though, not all with big price tags come in high potency, as proven by the Sinovac vaccine which is the second most expensive yet least effective vaccine amongst the Philippines’ options. Concurrently, the one-shot wonder Johnson and Johnson vaccine takes a step back as it is placed as the second least effective vaccine in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

Boiling Down on Convenience

The transportation and storage of the vaccines also play a key role in determining which vaccine suits best for the nation. For example, the Pfizer vaccine would need to be kept in deep freeze conditions at -70 degrees celsius, which would be challenging for tropical countries where deep freeze facilities are limited, such as the Philippines.

Despite this, hope still shines as most of the vaccines may be transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (between 2 to 4 degrees celsius), making them fit for the current facilities of the Department of Health. The Novavax and Gamaleya vaccines are said to be fit for these conditions. However, their longevity is yet to be known.

Moreover, Sinovac Vaccine may be stored for 3 months in this condition, while the AstraZeneca vaccine may last up to six months. Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine may remain stable for 30 days refrigerated, and up to six months in -20 degrees celsius, or the standard freezer temperature. Similarly, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to last refrigerated for three months or freezed for up to two years.

Based on the data laid above, one can conclude the best vaccine option based on what aspect they prioritize most. Whatever the country’s choices may be, the Department of Health urges the public to trust and respect the decision. They assure that officials are taking measures to ensure that Filipinos are afforded the best vaccines at the most ideal prices through the vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez.

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