Yes, it’s true. Different people may get different COVID-19 vaccines – CNET

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The race to authorize the first well-tested coronavirus vaccine is almost over, but it’s going to take more than one to treat everyone worldwide.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The first wave of coronavirus vaccines will be making landfall in the US soon, raising a ton of questions about who will get them and, more to the point, how soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already identified which groups should get the very first available doses of authorized COVID-19 vaccines (find out if you’re among those priority groups here), but more vaccines are coming and with them, more questions. Who will get those other vaccines and how soon can you expect to be protected against COVID-19?

With over a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in late-stage clinical trials, and dozens more coming up behind them, it’s evident not everyone in the world will get the same vaccine. There are not only different manufacturers — AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Norovax and so on — but each vaccine works a little differently from the others.

That means it’s possible some vaccines may be reserved for certain groups instead of others based on how they work or how they’re dispensed. For example, some single-dose vaccines might better serve spread-out, rural communities, whereas city dwellers and suburbanites who live closer to more health care providers may get vaccines that require subsequent “booster” doses.

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Not all COVID-19 vaccines will need to be injected — some can be delivered without a needle.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The vast majority of coronavirus vaccines are still being developed and the science continues to evolve, so nothing is set in stone. Here, we paint in broad strokes a picture of what the coming vaccine landscape may look like. We will update this story as new information comes to light. This article is intended to be a general overview and not a source of medical advice. If you’re seeking more information about coronavirus testing, here’s how to find a testing site near you.

The first wave of coronavirus vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna

What they are: Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA, or “genetic,” vaccines, an entirely new class of drugs that are unstable at room temperatures and must be kept frozen until right before they are dispensed.

When they’re coming: The UK has already approved and begun dispensing Pfizer’s vaccine. In the US, Pfizer’s could be authorized within days and both are expected to be authorized almost certainly by January.

Who they might be best for: More than likely, nursing home staff and residents and front-line health care workers.

Refrigeration: Pfizer’s vaccine requires long-term storage colder than Antarctica: -94 degrees F. It can be stored at 35 to 46 F for up to five days. Moderna’s needs temperatures a commercial deep freezer could probably handle for long-term storage: -4 degrees F. It keeps for 30 days at 36 to 46 degrees F.

One or two shots: Two. Both vaccines require an initial dose followed by a booster several weeks later.

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The frist vaccines will be dispensed to priority groups, like older adults and front-line health care workers.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Not far behind: Oxford University/AstraZeneca

What it is: Once the vaccine race frontrunner, the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and British/Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has run into a few snags, which have delayed its application for authorization.

When it’s coming: Likely in early 2021.

Who it might be best for: At first, people in India, where an AstraZeneca partner has already applied for authorization. Which groups get it in the US might depend on when it’s finally authorized here.

Refrigeration: A standard refrigerator could handle it: 36 to 46 degrees F.

One or two shots: Two, spaced a month apart.

After the New Year: Novavax

What it is: Considered something of an “underdog” only because it’s in fourth place in the race to authorization, Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine is still in late-stage clinical trials.      

When it’s coming: Probably sometime in the first half of 2021.

Who it might be best for: Not quite sure yet. 

Refrigeration: A standard refrigerator could handle it: 39 to 46 degrees F.

One or two shots: Two doses spaced three weeks apart, plus an adjuvant (a second drug that helps the vaccine work better).

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With several different coronavirus vaccines likely to be authorized in 2021, the next challenge will be figuring out which one is best for you.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Inovio has developed a needle-free delivery system

What it is: Instead of a syringe and needle, Inovio’s unique system uses an electrical pulse to deliver the vaccine into the body where it can trigger an immune response.

When it’s coming: Inovio just began mid-stage clinical trials in December, so a summer 2021 release might be a realistic expectation if all goes well with the studies.

Who it might be best for: Children and adults with an intense fear of needles; people in developing areas where safe needle disposal is a challenge.

Refrigeration: Can be kept at room temperature.

One or two shots: Two doses, four weeks apart.

There’s no guarantee that any of the vaccines listed above will be authorized by the FDA, nor do any of the timelines take into account the potential for future snags or delays, but we will update this article as new information surfaces. We’ll also continue to add more vaccines to this list as it becomes clearer when other manufacturers might apply for authorization as well as which groups are likely to receive them.

For more information about how vaccines are developed and distributed as well as the latest in vaccine news, check out our coronavirus vaccine explainer. If you have specific questions about a COVID-19 vaccine, we may have already answered them here. Wondering when you can get one? We’re tracking coronavirus vaccine priority groups here.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.