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Yes it’s true. Different people can receive different COVID-19 vaccines



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The race to approve the first well-tested coronavirus vaccine is nearly over, but it will take more than one to treat everyone worldwide.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The first wave of corona vaccines will make landfall in the US soon and a lots of questions about who gets them and, more to the point, how quickly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already identified which groups should receive it first available doses of authorized COVID-19 vaccines (see if you have any of the those priority groups here), but there are more vaccines and with them more questions. Who gets those other vaccines and how soon can you expect to be protected against COVID-19?

With more than a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in late-stage clinical trials, and dozens more on the way, it’s clear that not everyone in the world will get the same vaccine. Not only are there different manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Norovax and so on – but each vaccine works a little differently from the other.

That means it is possible that some vaccines may be reserved for certain groups rather than others, based on how they work or how they are provided. For example, some single dose vaccines could be better for scattered rural communities, while urban and suburban dwellers who live closer to more healthcare providers could receive vaccines requiring subsequent “booster doses”.

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Not all COVID-19 vaccines need to be injected – some can be given without a needle.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The vast majority of coronavirus vaccines are still under development and science continues to evolve, so nothing is certain. Here we sketch a broad picture of what the upcoming vaccine landscape might look like. We will update this story as new information comes to light. This article is intended as a general overview and not a source of medical advice. If you would like more information about coronavirus testing, here’s how to find a testing site near you.

The first wave of coronavirus vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna

What they are: Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA, or “genetic” vaccines, an entirely new class of drugs that are unstable at room temperature and must be frozen until just before dispensing.

When they come: The UK has already approved and started using Pfizer’s vaccine. In the US, Pfizer’s could be authorized within days, and both are expected to almost certainly be approved in January.

Who They May Be Best For: More than likely, nursing home staff and residents and primary health workers.

Cooling: Pfizer’s vaccine requires long-term storage, colder than Antarctica: -94 degrees F. It can be stored for up to five days at 35 to 46 F. Moderna needs temperatures that a commercial freezer can probably handle for long-term storage: -4 degrees F. It holds at 36 to 46 degrees F. for 30 days.

One or two shots: Two. Both vaccines require a starting dose, followed by a boost a few weeks later.

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The first vaccines will be provided to priority groups, such as the elderly and primary health professionals.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Not far behind: Oxford University / AstraZeneca

What it is: The coronavirus vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and British / Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, was once at the forefront of the vaccination race, but ran into a number of issues, delaying the authorization application.

When it comes: Probably early 2021.

Who it might be best for: Initially people in India, where an AstraZeneca partner has already applied for authorization. Which groups get it in the US may depend on when it’s finally authorized here.

Cooling: A standard refrigerator can handle it: 36 to 46 degrees F.

One or two shots: Two, a month apart.

After the New Year: Novavax

What it is: Considered something of an “underdog” just because it ranks fourth in the race for admission, Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine is still in a late stage of clinical trials.

When it comes: Probably sometime in the first half of 2021.

Who it might be best for: Not quite sure yet.

Cooling: A standard refrigerator can handle it: 39 to 46 degrees F.

One or two shots: Two doses three weeks apart, plus an adjuvant (a second drug that helps the vaccine work better).

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With several coronavirus vaccines likely to be approved in 2021, the next challenge is figuring out which one is best for you.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Inovio has developed a needleless delivery system

What it is: Instead of a syringe and needle, Inovio’s unique system uses an electrical pulse to deliver the vaccine into the body, where it can trigger an immune response.

When it comes: Inovio just started mid-phase clinical trials in December, so a release in the summer of 2021 could be a realistic expectation if all goes well with the studies.

Who it might be best for: Children and adults with an intense fear of needles; people in developing areas where the safe disposal of needles is a challenge.

Cooling: Can be kept at room temperature.

One or two shots: Two doses, four weeks apart.

There is no guarantee that any of the vaccines listed above will be approved by the FDA, nor are the timelines taking into account possible future issues or delays, but we will update this article as new information emerges. We will also continue to add more vaccines to this list as it becomes clearer when other manufacturers can apply for authorization and which groups are likely to receive it.

For more information on how vaccines are developed and distributed and for the latest vaccine news, visit our explainer of the coronavirus vaccine. If you have specific questions about a COVID-19 vaccine, we may already have it answer them here. Wondering when you can get one? We follow priority groups for the coronavirus vaccine here.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.


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