Vaccines to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic. Just recently, Bahrain has joined the front line of the global fight against the virus after announcing free vaccinations for citizens and residents.
What do we know about the Sinopharm vaccine and how does it compare to other vaccines?
What is the Sinopharm vaccine?
Sinopharm Group (China National Pharmaceutical Group) is a state-owned pharmaceutical company with two vaccine candidates.
The vaccine they have created uses an inactive virus to trigger an immune response. It works by using deactivated viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.
On 13th December, the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) has approved the registration of the Sinopharm vaccine. The NHRA approval for the vaccine is based on data from the trials carried out in several countries including Bahrain.
How is it given?
The Sinopharm vaccine is administered through injection into a muscle. According to the Ministry of Health’s website, a second dose of vaccine is needed on the 21st day after the first vaccination. On Day 35, antibodies against the virus will start to develop in the vaccinated person.
It is worth noting that citizens and residents in Bahrain above 18 years of age could register to receive the vaccine for free.
What are the possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild side effects, including:
- Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
According to WHO, there are currently more than 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in trials.
The Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is behind the CoronaVac, an inactivated vaccine. The approach deploys a dead version of the coronavirus to generate immunity.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna
Unlike most vaccines which are a modified virus or viral protein to elicit an immune response, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct the body to begin defending itself against COVID-19.
Once injected, the body’s immune system makes antibodies. If a vaccinated person is later exposed to the coronavirus, those antibodies should attack the virus.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
Inactivated vaccines only need to be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2˚C to 8˚C (36˚F to 46˚F). This means that this vaccine may also be useful to countries who are not able to store large amounts of vaccines at very low temperatures.
Meanwhile, mRNA type vaccines have to be kept at very low temperatures until injected. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at about minus-75 degrees Celsius while Moderna’s vaccine can be kept at about minus-20 degrees Celsius.