AUSTIN (KXAN) – Good news in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine — two U.S.-produced vaccines have now shown they’re capable of producing virus-fighting antigens, as well as T-cells.
One of the vaccines, developed by pharmaceutical company Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, was created thanks to research out of the University of Texas in Austin. It is currently in Phase III of testing.
The newest vaccine is being made by Novavax, Inc. and is currently in Phase I of testing. 131 people volunteered for a double dose of that vaccine. Participants developed four times as many neutralizing antibodies on average than people who have recovered from COVID-19.
There are over 140 COVID-19 vaccines in development, according to the New York Times. They’re not all made the same.
The basics on how the vaccines work
The Novavax vaccine is a protein-based vaccine. Proteins are the little spiky parts on the coronavirus. In a protein-based vaccine, these are scraped off and used as a base for the solution.
When you are injected with the vaccine, your body learns to fight off these proteins as opposed to having to fight off the whole virus. As a result, the virus can’t enter your cells and get you sick.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you’ve had a flu shot, you’ve likely had a protein-based vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine is a genetic vaccine.
Viruses work by teaching our body’s cells to create copies of the virus. Genetic vaccines take this same trick and reverse it. Scientists are able to write code, in this case in the form of DNA or RNA, that teaches your bodies cells to fight off the virus.
A protein-based vaccine is like learning on the job, while a genetic vaccine is like going to school. Both work, but the risks are different.
No genetic vaccine has ever been approved for use on humans, but they’ve been used on animals for decades. Not only could these vaccines be the fastest ever developed, they could be a breakthrough in science as we know it.