UNMC doctor breaks down differences between available COVID-19 vaccines

(Omaha, NE) -- As a third coronavirus vaccination makes its way to the market, a University of Nebraska Medicine Center doctor breaks down the differences between the available vaccines.

The newest vaccine in the market is from AstraZeneca and is in now its final stages of approval. The vaccine was developed in the UK and could be approved for use there in just a week. Two other COVID-19 vaccines, by Pfizer and Moderna, have already been approved for use in the United States by the FDA.

UNMC doctors say the AstraZeneca COVID vaccination will be slightly different from the first two we’ve seen come on the market. Both Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA (mRNA) to provide immunity which is fairly new technology. AstraZeneca uses a more common method, an adenovirus vector vaccine.

While very similar to an mRNA vaccine, it varies slightly. The AstraZeneca vaccine will deliver the COVID spike proteins alongside an adenovirus, a harmful dose of a common illness, which causes your immune system to kick into overdrive and produce antibodies. Dr. James Lawler, UNMC Director of Global Center for Health and Security, tells WOWT 6 News it's, “Kind of a Trojan horse almost a way to get your body to make the vaccine."

The RNA based vaccines have incredibly high chances of immunity, around 95%. Early results from AstraZeneca trials say their shots will be about 70% effective. “Right now we don’t know which vaccines will be longer-lasting which will be more effective right now the data we have from all these vaccines appears to be very effective,” said Lawler.

Dr. Lawler says it’ll probably take about six months to figure out which vaccine provides the longest-lasting results.

Adenovirus science is a little more studied, as it has been used in things like flu vaccines and tuberculosis vaccines. Dr. Lawler says there probably won’t be much of a choice which vaccine you get once there are multiple kinds on the market. “At this point, I would not necessarily discriminate against between any of the vaccines in terms of which ones I would choose to get."

Like Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca's vaccine would also require two shots to be effective.

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