Several vaccines against the coronavirus should be available in Germany shortly. But which one offers the most reliable protection? And can I decide for myself which active ingredient I get?
So far, the corona vaccine “BNT162b2” from Biontech and Pfizer is in use in Germany. Now the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given the go-ahead for the Modern– Given vaccine “mRNA-1273”. This is the second to be approved for vaccination against Covid-19 in the EU.
Outside the EU, the vaccine from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca “AZD1222” is already being used. Germany has also ordered vaccination doses of this active ingredient – but it has not yet been approved in the EU.
Biontech, Moderna, Astrazeneca: vaccines in comparison
There could therefore soon be several vaccines in this country. But who decides which one we get? And is one of the candidates “better” than the others? An overview of what the active ingredients have in common – and what differentiates them.
Type of vaccine and how it works
- Biontech: mRNA-based vaccine
- Modern: mRNA-based vaccine
- Astrazeneca: Vector virus vaccine
The means of Biontech and Moderna are both based on man-made mRNA and act in the same way. The genetic information for the so-called spike protein of the coronavirus is channeled into our cells with the help of small fat particles. These then produce the protein that the virus uses as a key in our cells. Our immune system recognizes this protein and begins to produce antibodies against it.
On the other hand, the basis for the vector virus vaccine from Astrazeneca is a chimpanzee runny nose virus, which is harmless to humans, as a means of transport. This is equipped with components of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The human immune defense ideally reacts to this harmless, as SARS-CoV-2 camouflaged virus by producing antibodies against the actual coronavirus.
Effectiveness and extent of protection
- Biontech: 95 percent effectiveness
- Modern: 94.5 percent effectiveness
- Astrazeneca: 62 to 90 percent effectiveness – depending on the dosage
The vaccines from Biontech and Moderna both work equally well. After evaluating the study results, around 95 percent of them prevent Covid 19 disease. Studies have shown that the Moderna vaccine is also very effective in older people. Similar to Biontech, protection starts about ten days after the first dose, with a maximum effect after the second dose.
Astrazeneca’s vector vaccine, on the other hand, is less protective overall. According to the interim results of the clinical studies, different percentages were determined: 90 percent effectiveness was found in the test with healthy participants up to 55 years old and first half and then full dosage. 62 percent effectiveness was found in the test with participants of any age, including previously ill, and twice the full dose. If you offset this data with each other, you get about 70 percent effectiveness.
Possible side effects and tolerability
Similar side effects can occur with all three vaccines. Including mainly pain at the injection site, but also tiredness, a headache and fever. In some cases, allergic reactions have occurred during vaccination with the mRNA vaccines. It is believed that this could be due to the ingredient polyethylene glycol – PEG for short. This is often found in cosmetics. The Astrazeneca vector vaccine does not contain PEG and could therefore be better tolerated by severe allergy sufferers.
Vaccination against Covid-19: There are sometimes clear differences in the vaccine candidates from Biontech, Moderna and Astrazeneca. (Source: Future Image International / imago images)
Transport, storage, shelf life
- Biontech: Storage at minus 70 degrees
- Modern: Storage at two to eight degrees for up to 30 days
- Astrazeneca: Storage at two to eight degrees for at least six months
The greatest difficulty with the Biontech agent is its transport and storage at very high temperatures below zero. Once at the place of use, the vaccine can then only be stored for up to five days at refrigerator temperatures.
The vaccines from Moderna and Astrazeneca are much easier to use and more stable. They do not need complex cold chains and can be stored at refrigerator temperatures. One advantage of the Astrazeneca active ingredient: the manufacturer states that the product can be kept for at least six months.
- Biontech: 12 euros per dose
- Modern: € 14.70 per dose
- Astrazeneca: 1.78 € per dose
There are big differences among the candidates when it comes to the price per vaccine dose. The Astrazeneca vaccine is the cheapest to source.
The three corona vaccines have a lot in common, but also some striking differences. The product from Biontech / Pfizer is very effective overall. However, the vaccine has to be transported and stored at extremely low temperatures, which makes it difficult to use.
Moderna’s vaccine is also very effective and can also score points with logistics advantages, as it does not require ultra-cold storage like the Biontech vaccine.
The protective effect of the Astrazeneca active ingredient is less than that of the two mRNA vaccines from Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna. However, it has one big advantage: it is much more resistant to temperatures and easy to use. This makes it possible to use it for complex cold chains in countries with fewer resources. In addition, the vaccine is significantly cheaper than the mRNA vaccines.
Can I have a say in which vaccine I get?
The doctor decides which vaccine is given. He has to weigh up which active substance is best suited for which group of people.
Currently, only the Biontech Pfizer vaccine is inoculated in Germany. But after the European Medicines Agency has approved the approval for the Moderna vaccine, it can also be delivered and administered shortly.
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Biontech Moderna Astrazeneca Corona vaccines comparison