We now have three apparently safe and effective vaccines to help stop the current COVID-19 pandemic. The latest estimates are that the pandemic will not end until 70 to 90 percent of the North American population has some degree of immunity (JAMA, 2020;324(8):732). Since natural infections will never get us to that level, everyone should be immunized against COVID-19 as a civic responsibility to help protect the people who are most vulnerable to serious consequences from this disease.
AstraZenica (with the University of Oxford) says that it will have three billion doses of its vaccine available in 2021, and Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are expected to have 20 million doses ready by Jan 1, 2021. We do not yet have the full data to prove that the vaccines are safe, but so far the trials have shown no real concerns. The main reason that I think the vaccines are safe is that they do not contain the coronavirus. AstraZenica’s vaccine contains a safe adenovirus, and the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain no living viruses whatsoever. All three of these vaccines cause your own immune system to produce antibodies against the coronavirus’s M-spike protein, which is the key that gets the virus into human cells. If your immune system destroys the M-spike protein, the virus cannot get into human cells and dies quickly after it enters your body.
We are hearing that the vaccines will be given free of personal charge, with governments covering the costs. The AstraZeneca vaccine will cost $3 to $4 per shot and can be stored in regular refrigerators. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are expected to cost between $15 and $25 per dose. Both require cold storage, with Moderna’s needing to be kept at -4F but stable for 30 days in ordinary refrigerator temperatures, while Pfizer’s needs long term storage at -94 F, with five days at refrigerator temperatures.
It is likely that vaccines will be available in your area by early January. Watch for news from your local authorities about availability and priorities so that you can get vaccinated as a service to your family and other members of your community.