Tracking each COVID-19 vaccine's journey

Now that Novavax has entered the COVID-19 vaccine scene, here's a rundown of the similarities and differences among each vaccine option, according to Yale Medicine:

When it first became authorized for emergency use

1. Pfizer-BioNTech: December 2020

2. Moderna: December 2020

3. Johnson & Johnson: February 2021

4. Novavax: July 2022


1. Pfizer-BioNTech: Anyone older than 6 months

2. Moderna: Anyone older than 6 months

3. Johnson & Johnson: Adults 18 and up who request it or can't have the other vaccines because of medical reasons

4. Novavax: Adults 18 and up

How many shots

1. Pfizer-BioNTech: Two shots for ages 5 and older; three shots for children 4 and younger

2. Moderna: Two shots

3. Johnson & Johnson: One shot

4. Novavax: Two shots

Each vaccine's ingredients

1. Pfizer-BioNTech: mRNA-based, which is "a relatively new technology" that requires "freezer-level temperatures" to store

2. Moderna: mRNA-based

3. Johnson & Johnson: A carrier/virus vector vaccine, which is a more tenured technique than mRNA vaccines and has been used before in the flu vaccine

4. Novavax: A protein-based, adjuvant vaccine, which is also an older vaccine technique


1. Pfizer-BioNTech: It was effective against 95 percent of COVID-19 infections as of December 2020 trial results, according to the World Health Organization

2. Moderna: The WHO says this vaccine is 94.1 percent effective against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2

3. Johnson & Johnson: Its effectiveness hovers at about 66 percent 

4. Novavax: In pre-omicron variant clinical trials, it garnered a 90 percent efficacy


1. Pfizer-BioNTech: One booster is available for adults. A booster dose is recommended for immunocompromised people 5 to 17 years old, and two booster doses are recommended for people 50 and older

2. Moderna: One booster is available for adults and two boosters are recommended for people 50 and older

3. Johnson & Johnson: The CDC recommends a Pfizer or Moderna booster

4. Novavax: The company is currently testing booster candidates but none are authorized as of July 20

Side effects

For a few days after the shot, common side effects for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are pain, redness, swelling, fatigue, muscle pain, chills, fever or nausea. Common side effects for Novavax's vaccine are injection site tenderness, fatigue, headache or muscle pain.


1. Pfizer-BioNTech: In mRNA-based vaccines, the FDA said in June 2021 there is a rare risk of heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) among children and young adults

2. Moderna: Similar to Pfizer, there's a rare risk of heart inflammation among children and young adults

3. Johnson & Johnson: In May, the FDA placed restrictions on the vaccine because of the rare risk of blood clots

4. Novavax: There isn't an official warning, but six out of 40,000 trial participants experienced myocarditis

In a CDC advisory meeting June 19, health experts shared the latest counts of myocarditis incidence among people of all ages and its relation to mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines: There have been 1,321 cases out of the 491.9 million people who have received at least one dose. This amounts to 0.00027 percent. 

What's next for each vaccine-maker

1. Pfizer-BioNTech: Its omicron-modified vaccine recently showed "substantially" improved results in a phase 3 trial

2. Moderna: The company has said its tweaked vaccine candidate is twice as effective against newer strains compared to its original vaccine, and it's already producing millions of doses as it waits for regulatory approval

3. Johnson & Johnson: There has been no recent news from J&J on its COVID-19 vaccine

4. Novavax: Apart from its booster candidate, the vaccine developer is also testing its vaccine for children between 12 and 17


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