BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

What is the difference between the Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax vaccines?

After the COVID-19 outbreak, various vaccines were developed to fortify our immune response against the virus. However, questions have arisen regarding the distinctions among the three prominent vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax. Despite the emergence and spread of new COVID-19 variants, these vaccines continue to be recognized as effective measures in preventing severe disease.

The Pfizer vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, meaning that a small piece of mRNA will instruct the host cell to produce copies of the spike protein

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2from a harmless version of the COVID-19 virus. The immune system will then identify the viral protein and will begin to produce antibodies that will attach to and mark the pathogens for destruction. Isn’t the immune system so amazing! The immune system then deploys B memory cells to prevent reinfection by remembering the antigen so your immune system can quickly fight it in the future. Common side effects of the Pfizer vaccine include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea throughout the body.

Similarly, the Moderna vaccine employs mRNA technology. It instructs host cells to replicate the spike protein, leading to the immune system generating antibodies that identify and target the foreign viral protein. B memory cells are then employed to prevent reinfection by remembering the antigen which allows your immune system to quickly fight it in the future. The side effects of using the Moderna vaccine are also pain, redness, swelling in the area where the shot was administered, and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea throughout the body. The key distinction between the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine lies in storage requirement.  Pfizer vaccine needs to be shipped in a special freezer that reaches very cold temperatures compared to Moderna that can survive in less extreme conditions.

In contrast, Novavax is the only non-mRNA vaccine available in the United States. It is a protein adjuvant vaccine. A protein adjuvant vaccine contains pieces of a harmless version of the COVID-19 spike proteins and pieces of an adjuvant. The immune system identifies the spike proteins as foreign bodies and the adjuvant aids in antibody production and activation of other immune cells to combat the spike proteins. The B memory cells are then used to prevent reinfection by remembering the antigen so your immune system can quickly fight it in the future.

Isn’t the way our bodies are able to fight off infection really amazing. Feel free to leave a comment and one fun fact you learned from this blog post!

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1 Comment

  1. lagoon1

    I never put much thought into the differences between the COVID-19 vaccines. After reading your post the differences are clearer to me. I enjoyed how the post divided and talked about each of the three vaccines. This made it easy to read what each vaccine does individually. I found an article similar to your style https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/comparing-vaccines. This article also discussed the differences between vaccines. Each vaccine has a slightly different age requirement. I thought it was interesting how certain vaccines are for certain age groups. After some research I found it is due to variations in safety, efficacy data, and potential side effects observed in clinical trials. A fun fact I learned based on your post is how similarly Moderna and Pfizer come into our bodies and begin the process of creating immunity. Overall these vaccines help and protect our immune system while also showing the incredible capability of our immune system to respond to threats. Although we have multiple types of vaccines they ultimately aim for the same goal which is strengthening our immunity against COVID-19.

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