So What Type of Vaccine Prevents Symptomatic Omicron the Best?

Let’s look at the evidence

So that’s a really loaded question.

You need to look at a lot of factors because BEST is really vague, do you mean the most effective at preventing COVID-19 or preventing a serious COVID-19 infection or maybe the one that gives you protection for the longest before you need a booster. Or which is the most acceptable for travel, or maybe what’s best to you is really the one with the least side effects. Basically, best is relative and often highly dependent on what’s available.

It’s also important to note that some vaccines are more widely used than others, so we have a lot more info on them. Plus some types of COVID-19 vaccine like Codagenix vaccine, which is the only COVID vaccine to use the inactivated vaccine tech, is still only in trials which means we don’t know how that would work in the real world.

But let’s dive into it. We’ll only be using peer reviewed research studies to improve the accuracy of this comparison. Anyone can write a Facebook post, but it’s always better to get info from people that are putting their hard won PhDs on the line to write that info.

COVID-19 Viral Vector / Adenovirus Vaccines

Which vaccines?

The Oxford/AstraZeneca, the J&J, CanSino, & Sputnik V (Gamaleya) vaccines

Editor opinion = mixed results

AstraZeneca: According to a study done by Andrews et al., (2022) using UK public health data those who had received two Oxford/AstraZeneca doses, saw almost no protective from symptomatic disease caused by the Omicron variant after 20 to 24 weeks from when they got their second dose. People could get this vaccine effectiveness up to 62.4% at 2 to 4 weeks if they got a Pfizer booster, but it would decrease down to 39.6% at 10 or more weeks after that booster (Andrews et al., 2022).

Johnson & Johnson (J&J): Results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, phase 3 trial (the kind of study that makes scientists drool), showed that the overall the J&J vaccine efficacy was 52.9% against moderate to severe COVID-19 (Sadoff et al., 2022). But this was not against the Omicron variant, so more conclusive data needs to be gathered on that (Sadoff et al., 2022). Plus, the big problem was that J&J’s protection wares off. A study in the United States by Yin et al., (2022) found that effectiveness of this vaccine starts to decline after 1 month and decreased to 59.4% at 5 months.

CanSino: Only observations without proper scientific evidence are available from the single-dose phase III trial of this vaccine, which involved 30,000 participants, but news reports are saying it has an efficacy of 65.7% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 91% efficacy at preventing severe disease (Golob et al., 2021). The CanSino vaccine has been used for vaccinating the military in China and received emergency use authorisation in several other countries (Golob et al., 2021).

Sputnik: A retroactive study in Argentina on showed that Sputnik V was 78.6% effective between December 29, 2020 to March 21, 2021 at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection. New data has yet to conclusively show how it fares against omicron (González et al., 2021). But a lot of data (as seen in Mohammed’s et al., (2022) systematic review) is showing that it has high efficacy against COVID-19 infection.

How does this type of vaccine work?

COVID-19 Genetic / mRNA Vaccines

Which vaccines?

The Moderna & Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the CureVac & Inova pharmaceuticals.

Editor opinion = protection wears off, so boosters are needed

Pfizer/BioNTech: This vaccine effectiveness against Omicron after two doses was 65.5% at 2 to 4 weeks after vaccination (Andrews et al., 2022). But this effectiveness dramatically dropped to 8.8% after 25 or more weeks, roughly 6 months (Andrews et al., 2022). A booster substantially increased the vaccines’ protection, as it pushed it back up to 67.2% protection 2-4 weeks after the booster (Andrews et al., 2022). But that protection went down to 45.7% after 10 or more weeks since the booster shot (Andrews et al., 2022).

Moderna: According to Mohammed’s et al., (2022) study, the effectiveness of the first dose against infection was on average 51.7% 7 days after getting the vaccination in the real world. This is much lower than the 95.2% efficacy seen in the clinical trials, which scientists are attributing to the high risk of infection many people are facing every day in normal life.

CureVac: its two-dose vaccine was just 47% effective at preventing COVID-19 (Dolgin, 2021). This result was based on its preliminary data, using a 40,000-person trial, published on 16 June 2021 (Dolgin, 2021). 75% of their 40 000 participants were based in Latin America and their other 25% came from Europe (Cohen, 2021). CureVac’s executives blamed the poor results of their vaccine on the high number of COVID variants — including emerging ones such as the Lambda variant, first detected in Peru (Dolgin, 2021).

Inova pharmaceuticals: this vaccine is currently in its second phase of its trials (“Penn Medicine”, 2020). No results have been released yet, but there’s still a lot of anticipation around what’s coming in the research world.

How does this type of vaccine work?

Are genetic/mRNA vaccines new?

Yes and no. mRNA vaccines are newly available for us as the public to use, but researchers have been working on them for a very long time. Researchers have been studying and working on mRNA vaccines for decades, as the technique was discovered in 1987 by Robert Malone.

Are genetic/mRNA vaccines safe?

The genetic/mRNA vaccine has been widely politicized long before the first COVID-19 vaccine was available. When you just look at the research, they are incredibly safe. Many people worry that genetic vaccines will change our genetic code, but that simply not true. These vaccines use mRNA which never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is stored, so it cannot change or influence our genes (Tang et al., 2022).

COVID-19 Inactivated Vaccines

Which vaccines?

Sinovac, Sinopharm, & the Bharat Biotech vaccines, as well as Shifa-Pharmed & the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences vaccines.

Your yearly flu (influenza) jab uses this method as well.

Editor opinion = mixed bag will have to wait and see

Sinovac: This is one is odd. According to Mohammed’s et al., (2022) study in Brazil where they’ve battled against Gamma variant of COVID, they found that 1 dose (49.6%) was more effective than 2 doses (36.8%) when they tested people after 14 or more days since the vaccine. Even stranger, they found that people who were vaccinated with Sinovac were much more likely to get COVID than someone that was unvaccinated (Mohammed et al., 2022).

Sinopharm: This vaccine also known as CoronaVac, has a reported efficiency of 79.34% (Siddique et al., 2021). This efficiency (a vaccines’ ability to produce the intended result) was found through Phase 3 clinical trials (the well respected kind of studies) done in Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Siddique et al., 2021). But there are reports that Sinopharm, like Sinovac, the other inactivated vaccine, is not very effective against Omicron (Hart et al., 2022). Plus, studies that are in the process of being peer reviewed, have shown that the Sinopharm boosters are up to 8 times less effective against omicron than the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech boosters (Hart et al., 2022). So it’s unsurprising that many countries that used Sinopharm initially are switching over to Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca boosters (Hart et al., 2022).

Bharat Biotech: Also known as Covaxin has shown a clinical efficacy of 81% (Thiagarajan, 2021). This is extremely promising due to the low cost of this vaccine st R56,18 per person vs. the R512,24 per-person price tag of Pfizer (Thiagarajan, 2021). Covaxin also doesn’t need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures, so it can be safely stored at fridge temperatures – something that would be great for a lot of developing countries (Thiagarajan, 2021). But as stated by Talukder et al., (2022) there is currently no information on what Covaxin’s efficacy will be against omicron. Plus because it’s so new more research is needed on its safety and long term COVID-19 protection (Talukder et al., 2022).

Shifa Pharmed: This vaccine looks promising as it is an Omicron based vaccine which has shown good neutralising antibodies in the animal trial (Abdoli et al., 2022). But there’s still no conclusive evidence of how it will preform in the real world in human patients as it is still in phase one of clinical trials (Basiri et al., 2022).

Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences vaccine: Also known as imbcams or Covidful. There is currently no official efficiency for this vaccine as it currently in phase 3 of its clinical trials, but it is being tested in Brazil, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and China. China has also approved the use of this vaccine for emergencies (Kantarcioglu et al., 2021).

How does this type of vaccine work?

COVID-19 Attenuated Vaccines

Which vaccines?

The Codagenix vaccine

The oral polio vaccine uses this method.

Editor opinion = As someone who is afraid of needles, this sounds attractive but will have to wait until the trials are over

Codagenix vaccine: Also known as COVI-VAC, this vaccine is only in phase 1 of trials, so nothing is really known about its efficiency yet. This will be a very interesting vaccine because like the polio vaccine it is not injected as COVI-VAC is given by drops into each nostril.

How does this type of vaccine work?

COVID-19 Protein Vaccines

Which vaccines?

The Novavax vaccine, & Sanifi/GSK vaccine.

The Hepatitis B vaccine also uses this method.

Editor opinion = Promising but unavailable

Novavax: This vaccine had an efficacy of between 49.4% to 60.1% against the Beta variant. According to evidence reviewers, Carmela et al., (2022) the study used to get this efficiency was quite impressive. They used randomised clinical trials, they tested it in South Africa, and they included HIV positive participants. Over all, this vaccine has completed 6 of these randomised clinical trials in 6 different countries now, and researchers are calling it one of the most promising looking vaccines yet. But it’s still in its testing phase, we need to wait and see how it does in the real world against Omicron (Mohammed et al., 2022).

Sanofi/GSK: Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, the people that make this vaccine, have reported it has a 57.9% efficiency against getting a symptomatic version of COVID-19 (Mahase, 2022). This doesn’t sound that great, but it protected 75% of people from getting a moderate (like medium bad) case of COVID (Mahase, 2022). Plus in a phase 3 trial more than 10 000 adults were randomised to receive two doses of the vaccine or two placebos, doses were given 21 days apart, & researchers found it had a 100% efficacy against getting a very bad case of COVID or getting it bad enough to have to go into hospital (Mahase, 2022).

But this vaccine is still in the clinical trials stage, so we don’t know how it will stand up in the real world.

How does this type of vaccine work?

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But What About Deltacron?

We’ve seen how these vaccines fare against Omicron, but rumours are circulating about a strange new Omicron/Delta hybrid let’s look at the evidence…

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