What's the Best Vaccine for COVID-19?

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD


Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 16, 2022

    What's the Best Vaccine for COVID-19?

    The Philippines administered its first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 1, 2021 — roughly a year ago. We started with the Chinese-made Sinovac, then eventually added Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sputnik, Janssen, Pfizer, and Moderna to the list. While the recommendation, “The best vaccine is the one readily available,” still rings true, some can’t help but wonder: What is the best vaccine for COVID-19? Surely, after inoculating billions of people and conducting numerous studies, experts must have identified the superior brands.

    Here’s some information that can help you decide about the best vaccine for COVID-19.

    Vaccine Effectiveness

    Initially, many of us determined the vaccine’s value based on its efficacy, which generally points to how well they lowered the risk of getting the disease in a clinical trial. However, since billions of people have already been inoculated, experts are now talking about vaccine effectiveness or VE. Generally, VE points to how the vaccines perform in a “real world” setting (larger population, communities, etc.)

    If the vaccine is 95% effective, that means your chance of getting the disease is 95% lower than those who didn’t get the vaccine. When it comes to effectiveness, what is the best vaccine for COVID-19?

    Let’s look at some of the studies involving the vaccine brands available in the Philippines.

    Sinovac-Coronavac

    A 3-month study involving more than 10 million people found that Sinovac has 65% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19. It is also 87.5% effective in preventing hospitalization, 90.3% effective in preventing ICU admission, and 86.3% effective in preventing COVID-related death³.

    Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Comirnaty (Pfizer)

    One report noted that 20+ weeks after the second dose, AstraZeneca and Comirnaty are 77% and 92.7% effective against hospitalization respectively. Against death, Vaxzevria is 78.7% effective while Pfizer is 90.4% effective⁴.

    Moderna

    One report stated that 2 doses of Moderna strongly protect against COVID-19. The report also mentioned that there was no data regarding hospitalization because “there were no hospitalizations with non-delta variants identified among vaccinated people.” Experts also noted that Moderna has 97.5% effectiveness against Delta-related hospitalizations⁵.

    Janssen

    According to experts, single-shot Janssen has the lowest effectiveness rate compared to mRNA giants, Pfizer and Moderna. While its VE is stable, (at least 70%), one study noted that 5 months after the inoculation, the effectiveness drops to 59.4%⁶.

    On Variants

    Most vaccines show waning or diminishing effectiveness on new variants, particularly for Delta and Omicron. When it comes to protection against mutations, what’s the best vaccine for COVID-19?

    A news report stated that three doses of Sinovac fail to protect against Omicron. That’s why people who received two doses must seek a different brand⁷.

    The US Center for Disease Control also released a report saying that the VE of mRNA vaccines is higher in people who got their vaccine less than 180 days ago compared to those who had their second dose more than 180 days ago.

    They also said that a third dose was highly effective in preventing emergency care, hospital admissions, and death during the Delta and Omicron pre-dominant periods.

    The implication is that people should get their booster shot as soon as they are already eligible for it.

    Side Effects

    We cannot talk about the best vaccine for COVID-19 without discussing the side effects.

    Before 2021 ended, the Center for Disease Control released a statement saying they prefer Pfizer and Moderna over J&J. This happened after they learned that the cases of blood clotting disorder following J&J vaccination were higher than they initially believed.

    That’s not to say that Pfizer and Moderna don’t have rare, serious side effects. Experts also associate these mRNA vaccines with myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle.

    Studies also associate Oxford AstraZeneca with a rare blood clotting disorder.

    All vaccines, of course, might lead to temporary and common side effects, like fever and chills, body aches, and redness and swelling at the injection site.

    What’s the Best Vaccine for COVID-19?

    As stated earlier, the recommendation, “the best vaccine is the one that’s available” still holds. After all, COVID-19 vaccines are effective against severe infections that lead to hospitalizations and death. If you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about vaccine brands and their ingredients.

    Learn more about Coronavirus here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 16, 2022

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