- BBC World News
The race for vaccination against covid-19 has caused a rather peculiar situation.
Almost a year after the World Health Organization (WHO) started talking about a pandemic and with several vaccines from different laboratories approved and available to the public in several countries, one question sums up a new concern: Which vaccine is better?
John Wright, who is a physician at Bradford Royal Infirmary University Hospital in central England, realized that his medical colleagues prefer one vaccine, while the public often opts for another.
“Now we have a variety of vaccines and people are beginning to ask me if they can choose or which vaccine I would recommend,” he tells the BBC.
For him, it is not a time to choose.
Concern about the selection of the covid-19 vaccine is a recurring theme in several countries where vaccination has been implemented.
For example, that is the case of the main Italian teachers union that rejects the AstraZeneca vaccine because it believes that those produced by Pfizer and Moderna are more effective.
This rejection is also observed in various sectors of the population in Europe after the authorities of Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, among others, reported that they will not apply this vaccine to people over 65 years of age because they consider that there is insufficient data on its effectiveness.
However, on February 16, two versions of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine against covid-19 were included in the WHO list for use in emergencies.
It is the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca-SK Bioscience (AZ-SKBio) and the Serum Institute of India (AZ-SII), which are available for distribution through the Covax program.
And the distrust of the vaccines Sputnik V, of Russian production, and Sinopharm, made in China, is also present in Latin America and other regions of the world. Although its effectiveness results are promising.
Sputnik V was 92% effective, according to data published in the journal The Lancet, and the Sinopharm vaccine has an effectiveness of 79.34%, although the results of phase III of the clinical trial have not yet been published in a scientific journal.
According to Wright, the concept of consumer choice when it comes to immunization, or even medication, is wrong.
“No one asks about the brand of their annual vaccine against the flu or which company produces the triple viral vaccine that will protect your precious children, “he says.
And comparing vaccines with each other is not as simple as “comparing cola drinks or cars,” adds the doctor.
“It is still too early to make claims: As evidence accumulates from continued vaccine trials and real-world trials, we will get a clearer picture,” he says.
Wright, who is an experienced practitioner of the cholera, HIV and Ebola epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa, told the BBC that in his personal experiment among the preferences of his colleagues he found that they have a slight tendency to opt for the Pfizer vaccine.
“They tend to be more comfortable with newer RNA technologies, and preliminary data from trials suggested better clinical effectiveness, which is a key part of all of our clinical decision-making,” he explains.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration recently released summary data from the Pfizer trial and it turned out that more than 3,000 suspected – but unconfirmed – cases of covid were not included in the press releases so the vaccine could be less effective than the original 95% they claimed.
However, Wright says that among his patients and non-medical colleagues there appears to be a greater preference for the AstraZeneca vaccine, perhaps because of its British roots and its more traditional viral vector platform, which uses a harmless virus to transport the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein gene into the patient’s body.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine takes the same approach.
For its part, the Novavax vaccine uses a new nanoparticle technique that consists of a SARS-CoV-2 peak protein manufactured in the laboratory together with an agent that signals the immune system to take defensive measures.
“There is skepticism derogatory about Russian or Chinese alternatives both among physicians and members of the public, although the effectiveness of Sputnik V seems quite good and the as-yet unpublished results for Sinovac’s CoronaVac, which have been circulating in the medical community, also appear promising, “he describes.
John Wright says he was about to get the Pfizer vaccine just before Christmas, but contracted COVID-19 so the virus gave him “a real dose,” he jokes.
The doctor is likely to maintain a good immune response for the first two to three months, but in the event of a possible reinfection, he plans to get the vaccine in the near future.
“Of course, would take any of these shotsAll have turned out to work much better than we could have imagined, “he says.
So when recommending which vaccine to get, Wright says:
“My answer is simple: let’s accept any vaccine they give us. (…). The idea of choice seems so wrong when there is such an acute shortage of vaccines around the world, “he analyzes.
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