June 27, 2022

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COVID-19: UK Approved Two Different mRNA Vaccines

COVID-19: UK Approved Two Different mRNA Vaccines

COVID-19: UK Approved Two Different mRNA Vaccines: One from BioNTech; another from  Moderna. Both Vaccines were approved  for emergency use!

COVID-19: UK Approved Two Different mRNA Vaccines

On December 2, according to the People’s Daily Overseas Network, a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Health and Social Care stated that the government has accepted the recommendations of the Drug and Medical Products Regulatory Agency to approve the emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be available throughout the UK starting next week.

The UK became the first country in the world to approve the emergency use of mRNA vaccines.

mRNA vaccines

The mRNA vaccine is a nucleic acid vaccine. Nucleic acid vaccine refers to the delivery of a plasmid vector containing the encoded protein gene sequence to the host through a certain method, and the host cell expresses the antigen protein to induce the body’s immune response to the protein, thereby achieving the purpose of disease prevention. As a new technology vaccine, nucleic acid vaccine is called the third generation vaccine following the whole virus vaccine and recombinant subunit vaccine.

The new coronavirus is a (+) single-stranded RNA virus. The single-stranded RNA is equivalent to the mRNA in the cell and can directly translate the encoded protein in the cell, such as capsid protein and viral RNA polymerase. The new coronavirus vaccine prepared using the nucleic acid vaccine technical route can translate antigen proteins in the human body and induce immunity in the human body.

The advantage of mRNA vaccine is that the production process is simple and fast. Unlike inactivated vaccines, mRNA vaccines only need to replicate viral nucleic acid to complete the production of vaccines, which greatly simplifies the production process, so rapid vaccine production becomes possible. However, the large-scale application of nucleic acid vaccines still faces many technical problems that need to be solved urgently. One is the low antigenicity of the nucleic acid vaccine, which is related to the expression level of the nucleic acid vaccine in the host cell; the second is the poor stability of the nucleic acid itself, which requires high temperature during storage, which usually needs to be stored at an ultra-low temperature of -70℃; It is easily degraded by nucleases in the body and requires a suitable delivery vehicle to deliver it to the body.

BioNTech 

At present, BioNTech, Moderna and CureVac are collectively known as the world’s three leading mRNA therapy leaders. Among them, BioNTech and Moderna are at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine research and development.

BioNTech was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Germany. The company’s cutting-edge products include personalized mRNA-based candidate products, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, new checkpoint immunomodulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules, etc. .

On November 18, Pfizer and BioNTech stated that the final results of the phase III clinical trial showed that among 43,000 subjects, 170 confirmed cases were generated, including 162 in the placebo group and only 8 in the experimental group, which means BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine has an effective rate of 95%. Affected by this news, Pfizer rose by 3% and BioNTech surged by 10%.

Moderna

Moderna was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The company focuses on messenger RNA (mRNA) research and is committed to becoming a pioneer and leader in global mRNA drug discovery and drug development. At present, the company’s research and development pipeline has 21 vaccines and drugs, of which the SARS-COV-2 vaccine is in clinical phase III, and 4 drugs including Cytomegalovirus vaccine and personalized cancer vaccine are in clinical practice In phase II, 8 drugs are in clinical phase I. It is worth mentioning that in the company’s R&D pipeline, 18 of the 21 drugs and vaccines are all mRNA drugs.

On November 30, Moderna released the final data of the vaccine trial. Among 30,000 subjects, 196 patients developed COVID-19 pneumonia, including 30 patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Among the 196 patients with COVID-19, 185 were vaccinated with a placebo and only 11 were vaccinated. This means that the vaccine has an effective rate of 94.1% in preventing COVID-19 infection and 100% in severe cases. Although the final result is slightly lower than the 94.5% result in Phase III, it is far higher than the FDA’s assessment requirement for a 50% effective vaccine marketed.

Comparison of the two vaccines

Although both are mRNA vaccines, there are differences between BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines and moderna’s mRNA vaccines.

From the perspective of efficacy, the two sides are equally equal. BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine has an effective rate of 95%, and Moderna’s mRNA vaccine has an effective rate of 94.1%.

From the perspective of adverse reactions, the two sides are evenly matched. Both parties said that there were no serious adverse reactions, but considering that mRNA vaccines are a brand-new technology, further observations in phase IV clinical trials are required in the future.

From the perspective of storage temperature, Moderna vaccine wins. BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccines have extremely stringent storage temperature requirements, requiring storage at a low temperature of -70°C. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine can be stored in an environment of minus 20°C for 6 months, and can be stored in an ordinary refrigerator at 2-8°C. It can be stored for one month, even 12 hours at room temperature, which greatly enhances the universality of the vaccine. Considering that the price of each ultra-low temperature refrigerator is usually between 5000-15000 US dollars, this is not friendly to medical institutions in developing countries.

From a price perspective, BioNTech vaccine wins. The BioNTech vaccine is currently priced at US$19.5 per dose, which is cheaper than Moderna’s vaccine at US$25-37 per dose.

From the perspective of production capacity, BioNTech vaccine wins. BioNTech plans to supply 1.3 billion doses of vaccines globally in 2021, while Moderna expects to produce 500 to 1 billion doses in 2021.