How the Novavax technology is different from other coronavirus vaccines – The Washington Post

The four vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration all teach the body’s immune system to recognize and attack the virus that causes covid-19, but each type does it a little differently.

The first two vaccines, by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, debuted the newest technology. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was created using a slightly more conventional method. The most recent vaccine to be greenlighted was made by Novavax through a process commonly used since the 1980s.

Vaccines imitate an infection, giving the immune system a sort of practice target so that it learns how to quickly recognize and defend against the real virus.

Each type of vaccine delivers a different antigen in a different way, but they all teach the immune system to recognize the proteins that make up the virus’s signature spikes. Those spikes are the keys that allow the coronavirus to unlock and infect cells.

Specialized cells break the antigens down into a form the immune system can recognize, and they pass the information along to other cells that marshal infection-fighting troops.

Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) consume the antigen from the vaccine or made from the instructions in the vaccine. They break down the spike protein antigen into pieces called peptides and present those to T-helper cells.

Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) consume the antigen from the vaccine or made from the instructions in the vaccine. They break down the spike protein antigen into pieces called peptides and present those to T-helper cells.

Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) consume the antigen from the vaccine or made from the instructions in the vaccine. They break down the spike protein antigen into pieces called peptides and present those to T-helper cells.

They mix in a detergent to create a spike-covered soap bubble that looks like the coronavirus. They also add an ingredient called an adjuvant that revs up the immune system so it will respond more forcefully.

Copies of the spike protein are then used by the immune system to activate immune cells to recognize and stop the virus.

Moth cells are used to generate the spike protein. An ingredient, called an adjuvant, from the soapbark tree is added.

Subunit vaccines take longer to produce than the newer types. A handful of cases of heart inflammation occurred during the Novavax trials, although it is unclear whether the vaccine caused the inflammation.

But Novavax has advantages. It stays stable longer under typical refrigeration, does not contain ingredients used in other vaccines that trigger allergies, and may appeal to people who prefer an older, more familiar technology. Some flu, hepatitis B and shingles vaccines are subunit vaccines.

A Novavax shot contains ready-made virus spikes; a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot contains instructions so the body can make spikes.

The mRNA coronavirus vaccines can be manufactured quickly, and most people tolerate them well with no more than mild, short-lived side effects. But they are not ideal for everyone.

Some people are allergic to an ingredient used to stabilize the mRNA vaccines. In rare cases, vaccine recipients — mostly younger men — can develop heart inflammation after being vaccinated. And some people have been hesitant to try a new technology.

The vaccine created by Johnson & Johnson also carries spike-making instructions, but it does it differently than the mRNA vaccines. As a “viral vector” vaccine, it delivers a gene into the body in a harmless, modified cold virus.

This content was originally published here.