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Comparing five COVID-19 vaccines to be administered in S. Korea Updated: 2021-02-03 15:07:39 KST

Starting with Pfizer later this month, South Korea is expected to administer five different COVID-19 vaccines,… those made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen,and Novavax.
Each vaccine has shown different levels of effectiveness and require different handling process.
Lee Kyung-eun is here to make comparisons for us.
Kyung-eun, before we get to any of this, any word on official approval?

Actually, none have been officially approved.
But South Korea, just a few hours ago, gave approval to import Pfizer's for emergency use.
It will arrive by mid-February.
AstraZeneca is currently under review, and the government is expected to give it a full approval within this month.
Other vaccines could take several months to be approved.

The Pfizer vaccine has shown the highest level of efficacy, am I right?

Yes, clinical data shows an impressive 95 percent efficacy for Pfizer.
But the caveat is that it's highly sensitive to temperature, and needs to stored at below minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The efficacy for Moderna's vaccine is similar to that of Pfizer's at 94 percent.
But its temperature tolerance is less extreme at minus 20 degrees.
In terms of handling, AstraZeneca and Novavax are more convenient.
They can be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

Okay, how about their effectiveness against the new, more contagious coronavirus strains from the UK and South Africa?

Most vaccines are believed to be effective against the UK variant.
But not so much against the South African strain.
Novavax is the first and only drugmaker to show any relevant clinical data.
It shows that the vaccine is 85 percent effective against the UK variant, but only about 50-percent protective against the South African strain.
Moderna and Pfizer conducted lab studies, and discovered that their vaccines are also effective against the new strains,.. but not quite as much.

What do we know about the safety of these vaccines?

Novavax is considered to be the safest,… because it uses a more traditional method of recreating part of the spike protein to stimulate the immune system.
But the mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer's and Moderna's rely on technology that has not been used previously, so there are a lot more unknowns in terms of side effects.

Among the five, Janssen requires a different administering guideline. What can you tell us about that?

Yes, most vaccines require two shots.
But Janssen's only requires one.
In the meantime,.. there's something unique about AstraZeneca's vaccine too.
Latest studies show that the vaccine is effective in drastically reducing the trasmission of the virus,.. as well as preventing people from being severely ill.

Okay, Kyung-eun. Thank you for the information.
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