There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.
This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.
I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use in finding COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.
For the past year, we have ignored the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine while focusing on the ones from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and JNJ. However, Novavax will soon be requesting an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the USA for its vaccine, known as Nuvaxovid or Covovax, bringing another weapon in the war against COVID-19. The vaccine received an emergency use authorization in the EU in December 2021.
The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is completely different than the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer and the adenovirus vector vaccines from JNJ and AstraZeneca. It uses a technology that is similar to what is used with other common vaccines.
Unfortunately, Novavax ran into several manufacturing issues which delayed its availability across the world. But over the past few months, they fixed those issues with their contractors and now appear to be ready to launch the vaccine widely across the world.
I just wanted to make sure that we remain aware of it, and I wanted to toss out some ideas that I have about the vaccine. I think it might be much more important than the other vaccines in fighting against the variants that keep hitting us.
Although it may seem like all we talk about are the COVID-19 vaccines, but there’s more going on out there. One is a new breakthrough malaria vaccine that may bring an end to this scourge.
We are still a few years away from this vaccine being widely available, but since control of malaria has been a goal of scientists for a long time, a potential malaria vaccine is something that should be celebrated widely.
One of the enduring myths about vaccines is that they’re rushed to market, which has continued with COVID-19 vaccines. This myth doesn’t arise because the anti-vaxxers have some “gotcha” information about these vaccines, it’s because they are intent on pushing fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
If you read my articles since March about the development of this vaccine, I was very troubled about the speed of development. Most vaccines take 5-10 years to develop, mostly because we want a better handle on the expected effectiveness and to uncover any potential (and extremely rare) serious adverse events.
But were the COVID-19 vaccine rushed? Not really. Basically, two massive resources – money and brainpower – were thrown at developing a vaccine so that we could stop the inexorable march of the pandemic. The best scientists in the world collaborated with the best pharmaceutical companies with the backing of the richest countries to develop and manufacture safe and effective vaccines.
It wasn’t a magical process where scientists pulled ideas out of thin air to make these vaccines using dangerous technologies. They didn’t.
We know how to train the adaptive immune system to prevent pathogenic diseases with vaccines using all kinds of technologies. Once we were able to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus and determine what parts of its structure were the most immunogenic, we knew what to do, it wasn’t a huge mystery at that time.
The three vaccines I’m going to discuss are ones that have a reasonable chance of getting approved for use in the USA or Europe. This excludes COVID-19 vaccines from Russia, China, and other countries that rarely, if ever, get FDA approval for vaccines (see Note 1).
So, let’s take a look at what are probably the next three COVID-19 vaccines in the pipeline.