It is the fastest spreading COVID-19 vaccine around the world – apart from Russia’s Sputnik V, with limited expansion – and it could very soon be in the veins of Europeans. It is already being administered on a massive scale in the UK and the US.
Despite the mystery that seems to surround the composition of vaccines, the US, Canadian and British drug agencies have published the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine component list.
It is a legal obligation and a precautionary measure, because it is suspected that it could cause reactions in people with a history of severe allergies.
Pfizer itself, in its explanatory page about the vaccine, states that the US FDA has not approved the vaccine, but only authorized its use due to the emergency situation that caused the pandemic.
The strangest or most revolutionary thing in the vaccine is its active principle: the Messenger RNA or mRNA, which is used for the first time in a vaccine. It is genetic information of the real virus that gives the body enough information to react against future invasions, without the need to inoculate the virus like other types of vaccines.
Specifically, it encodes the S glycoprotein of the virus, the “spike” or “spike” that SARS CoV 2 uses to invade cells and which gives it its characteristic shape. This information allows the body to react when faced with the true coronavirus.
The fragile mRNA needs to be transported in a particle that contains mainly lipids (fats) and sugars in order to enter the cells of the body. For this reason, it must be kept at temperatures of -70ºC, which is one of its main disadvantages and a logistical challenge to supply it en masse.
The lipids present in the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine are:
(4-hydroxybutyl) azanediol) bis (hexane-6,1-diol) bis (ALC-3015) (2-hexyldecanoate), 2 – [(polietilenglicol) -2000] -N, N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159) 1,2-distearoyl-sglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC) Cholesterol
It also contains saccharose, which helps to preserve the particles
And one Saline solution fairly common, composed of:
monobasic sodium phosphate
potassium chloride dihydrate
monobasic potassium phosphate
The main function of the salts is to regulate the acidity of the vaccine.
In an expert review of the vaccine, the journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains that Pfizer may not have published 100% of the ingredients, because the genetic sequence of the virus’ mRNA and the exact nucleosides that it has modified are not know. “We believe that Pfizer has not specified exactly what sequence it uses or which nucleosides it has modified. That means that the content of the vaccine may not be 100% public” says author Antonio Regalado.
In view of these components it is difficult to say what caused allergic reactions in two employees of the British health service. Some experts believe that it could be due to a reaction when stimulating the immune system.
The prospectus published by Pfizer also details the possible side effects:
Compared to Moderna’s vaccine, it fares better, causing slightly fewer side effects. In addition, the clinical trial had more participants.
It also warns of a “remote chance” of a severe allergic reaction and unknown serious side effects. It is also noted that it is not known at the moment how long it protects from the virus that causes COVID-19. The possible relationship between the vaccine and cases of Bell’s palsy is also unclear and seems quite remote at the moment.
The vaccine has been developed in record time and raises many questions, but its ingredients are quite common, beyond messenger RNA technology, and it has neither aluminum nor the mysterious components attributed to it in certain anti-vaccine forums.