Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine: price, effectiveness, contraindications, and side effects

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Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Facebook / Pfizer

Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Facebook / Pfizer

Ukraine received 117,000 doses of the American-German Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine under the COVAX program on April 16, 2021. First of all, this vaccine will be used for inoculation of people who live in nursing homes.

The Page has compiled information about its benefits, side effects, and features.

A series of articles about coronavirus vaccines from The Page:

1

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine: composition

The official name of the vaccine is tosinameran or BNT162b2. The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine contains the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl) azanediyl) bis (hexane-6,1-diyl) bis (2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N , N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

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The vaccine works using technology that has been in development for decades. Its main component is a messenger RNA molecule. It contains information about the causative agent of the COVID-19 virus — SARS-CoV-2. The molecule enters the human cell, the protein is synthesized and the body gives an immune response. Important: The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, and therefore the vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 disease.

The vaccine is stored at -70°C. After the vaccine is delivered to the vaccination center, it will need to be thawed and used within five days. To transport the vaccine, Pfizer has developed a box with dry ice and GPS trackers. Up to 5,000 doses of the vaccine can be stored for 10 days, provided that the temperature is correct and the packaging is sealed.

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In Ukraine, the vaccine will be stored in containers with dry ice.

2

Vaccine efficacy

According to research by manufacturers and the Ministry of Health of Israel, the American-German Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine prevents the transmission of coronavirus by 89.4%. The Ministry of Health of Israel has added that the vaccine protects against death almost by 99% if a person who was previously vaccinated gets sick with coronavirus.

The risk of illness is reduced by 91.9% one week after vaccination, and by 95.8%—on the fourteenth day after the second dose; cases of illness with fever and/or respiratory symptoms are reduced by 96.9% after a week, and by 98%— on the 14th day after the second dose; the probability of hospitalization decreases—95.6% and 98.9%, the probability of a severe form of coronavirus—96.4% and 99.2%, the probability of death—94.5% and 98.9%.

The Lancet journal has published a study by Israel's Sheba Medical Center. According to it the efficacy of the vaccine after the first dose was 85%, and the risk of infection decreased by 75%.

Earlier, the companies announced that the vaccine had reached 90% effectiveness in the third phase of clinical trials, but it was not effective enough to fight the South African coronavirus strain. According to the report, the experts found no major safety concerns associated with the vaccine.

The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 92% effective in preventing severe illness after two doses and 62% after the first. The expected efficacy for preventing fatalities is 72%. Tests also show that the drug is equally effective in people over 70 years old and in young people.

Besides the point, the most common drug against COVID-19 in the world as of mid-February was the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. According to Our World in Data, it is used in 61 countries around the world.

3

Indications and contraindications for vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech

The FDA has approved the emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for persons aged 16 or older.

It is not recommended if a person has a history of severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine or allergic reaction to any of its ingredients.

Vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech consists of two stages: the first inoculation and a second one a month later to develop immunity. The duration of the protective COVID-19 vaccine properties is currently unknown.

However, due to insufficient data, the WHO does not recommend vaccinating pregnant women. If pregnant women are inevitably at high risk of exposure (eg, healthcare workers), vaccination may be considered in discussions with their healthcare providers. If women who are breastfeeding are in the group recommended for vaccination (for example, healthcare workers), they can be vaccinated. Breastfeeding after vaccination does not need to be stopped.

Persons with HIV who are in the recommended vaccination group can be vaccinated—but only when possible—after receiving information and recommendations. Individuals with HIV infection can be vaccinated. Clinical trials have provided limited data on the safety of the vaccine for HIV-infected persons with well-controlled disease.

If a person has already been sick with COVID-19, they can also be vaccinated.

"A person who has had COVID-19 may be advised to postpone the vaccination by 6 months, but if they want to, and they are in the priority groups, the previous disease is not a contraindication to vaccination."

Viktor Lyashko

Viktor Lyashko

Chief Sanitary Doctor

After the first dose is administered, the person should be given a vaccination card that will indicate the date of arrival for the second dose of vaccine.

4

Pfizer vaccine: side effects

Known side effects from Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine:

  • pain at the injection site;
  • fatigability;
  • headaches;
  • muscle pain;
  • chills;
  • joint pain;
  • fervescence;
  • swelling at the injection site;
  • redness at the injection site;
  • nausea;
  • general malaise;
  • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).

There is a low risk that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. It usually occurs within minutes to one hour after dosing.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction may include shortness of breath, swelling of the face and throat, heart palpitations, a profuse rash all over the body, dizziness, and weakness.

In January 2021, at least 23 people who were vaccinated against coronavirus with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine died in Norway. According to Sigurd Hortemo, Chief Physician of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the usual symptoms that the vaccine causes, such as nausea and fever, could lead to the death of certain elderly people with poor health. Indeed, vaccinations in Norway began at the end of December 2020. Residents of a nursing home in Oslo were the first to be vaccinated in the country.

5

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Ukraine

As part of the COVAX initiative, Ukraine expects to receive up to a million doses of Pfizer vaccine. Ukraine will buy up to 10 million doses from Pfizer.

The vaccine will be primarily received by residents and staff of nursing homes, employees of the State Emergency Service and the State Border Service.

6

Coronavirus vaccine price

In EU countries, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will cost 15.5 euros (525.98 UAH) per dose. The full course will cost 31 euros (1,051.96 UAH). The final cost depends on the size of the lot that the country will order.

Recall: vaccination in Ukraine will be free, at the expense of the state, but if desired and a sufficient amount of vaccine is available, it will be possible to vaccinate before the turn comes up, at person’s own expense.

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