The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines

Paper Info
Page count 15
Word count 7489
Read time 28 min
Topic Health
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US

Few clinical problems could become so urgent and relevant to the global agenda that their emergence led to radical changes in all spheres of human life. One of the main threats to the international health system remains the problem of a new coronavirus infection COVID-19 caused by the pathogenic virus SARS-CoV-2. This disease should be considered new because of the mutational phenomenon, resulting from which the pathogen was able to acquire unique and persistent evolutionary characteristics. In turn, the formation of new coronavirus varieties made it impossible for the existing healthcare systems to respond promptly to the emerging threat due to the lack of experience in dealing with this pathogen. Therefore, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 was a significant challenge to the global agenda, demonstrating the poor performance of health systems against the emergence of new threats.

It is not only the medical industry that has been severely affected. The severe pressure on health systems has hurt virtually all areas of public life: profound causal links are readily apparent. Unable to cope with the dramatically increased flow of crisis patients, hospitals were overwhelmed and ineffective in helping to deal with the unrelenting pace of the pandemic. In turn, most governments have had to impose severe restrictive measures banning social contacts, public facilities, and significant events (Disantara, 2020). This led to the ruin of small and medium-sized businesses, forcing many commercial organizations to close and disrupt built supply chains. Moreover, to contain the growth rate of infections, many countries hastily closed borders and suspended the issuance of visas, justifying the decision on national security grounds. As can be seen, as a result of the new threat, all spheres have come under pressure, which means that public life, based on the principles of globalism, has become bruised.

Information about the Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a well-studied group of viral particles containing RNA molecules as genetic material. The name of this family was given to viruses solely because of the similarity of their morphological structure to the solar corona. The lipoprotein envelope of the virus has several spike-like peplomers designed for efficient binding to cell receptors, as shown in Figure 1. SARS-CoV-2 is entirely consistent with this description and appears to be a naturally occurring virus, although this position still has no clear academic assessment. A central argument in the assumption of a natural origin of the virus causing COVID-19 is the high similarity rate to SARS-CoV, which caused the SARS epidemic in 2002 (Rokni et al., 2020). On the other hand, genomic studies of the structure of the virus reveal some inaccuracies and assumptions that allow opponents of the natural origin of the pathogen to discuss its laboratory production. For example, the presence of a viral laboratory at the epicenter, Wuhan, China, and the phylogenetic differences from the progenitors, and the multiplicity of mutated forms provide the basis for skepticism. At the same time, the current virus has a steady tendency to evolve through mutagenic processes of genetic material. This creates a wide variety of similar pathogens with various functionalities and makes it much more challenging to fight them effectively.

General structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus 
Figure 1. General structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus 

General structure of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus 

Morphological Characteristics

The morphological and genomic characteristics of the virus have already been sufficiently studied. According to Varga et al. (2020), the virions are roughly spherical or oval, with an effective diameter of about 180 nanometers. Morphological analysis of the pathogen shows the presence of multiple lipoprotein outgrowths of the viral envelope that fulfill the functional role of binding to target cell receptors and starting mechanisms to trigger infection development. Thus, each peplomer consists of a protein S complex represented by three proteins. S1 at the top of the spike interacts with the target cell receptors, while S2 and S2‘ carry out a biochemical fusion of the viral envelope with the host cell membrane to facilitate the injection of genomic material. Notably, each peplomer is generally mobile and is a hinge mechanism, which means that the attachment of SARS-CoV-2 to the cell surface proves to be more efficient for the virus. In addition to these proteins, the viral particle also has biopolymers that form the nucleocapsid envelope (Figure 1). Such proteins package the viral RNA and play a fundamental role in the assembly of the viral particle, but the structure of the coronavirus nucleocapsid is not currently described in any detail (CoviĂĄn et al., 2020). From the known information, it should be noted that the internal proteins of the capsid are bound in a chain no thicker than fifteen nanometers, with the capsid as a whole not occupying the entire free volume of the pathogenic particle. Inside the nucleocapsid, as is customary for viruses, there is genomic material.

Genomic Characteristics

SARS-CoV-2 is a typical RNA-containing coronavirus with reliable morphological evidence of belonging to this taxon. The virus contains a single-stranded RNA measuring approximately 29.8 base pairs (Rokni et al., 2020). The genome itself has six open reading frames, which are characteristic of all coronaviruses and genes unique to SARS-CoV-2 responsible for synthesizing matrix and nucleocapsid proteins. SARS-CoV-2 should be assigned to the beta-coronaviruses — Coronaviridae family — among which there is SARS-CoV, which caused SARS pneumonia. All of this allows the current pathogen to be evaluated as closely related to preexisting forms but mutated and once crossed the interspecies barrier.

Aetiological Evidence

SARS-CoV-2 is a pathogen of the respiratory system of humans. The virus is capable of causing acute respiratory viral infections, including respiratory failure, as shown in Figure 2 (Xia et al., 2021). The critical entry gates for pathogen entry are the epithelium of the upper respiratory tract. Consequently, the mode of transmission of the virus involves inhaling air contaminated with viral particles, especially near the source of infection, namely a sick person or hospital. SARS-CoV-2 first attaches to target cells that have ACE2 receptors, including in the cells of the nasopharynx (Figure 3). As a result, a change in a patient’s sense of smell at an early stage of the disease may be indicative of nasopharyngeal mucosal edema. However, each of the existing developing types of SARS-CoV-2 has unique entry into the host, so many aspects of pathogenesis need further critical study.

Damage of a mouse lung sample by coronavirus 
Figure 2. Damage of a mouse lung sample by coronavirus 
Pathogen penetration through the hemolytic barrier 
Figure 3. Pathogen penetration through the hemolytic barrier 

Vaccination as a Solution to the COVID-19 Problem

Every time humanity is confronted with a new infectious disease, the efforts of clinical laboratories rush to find an effective cure, diagnostic tests, and a vaccine. A vaccine to stimulate the formation of artificial immunity is an excellent solution, proven over time and by many generations of physicians. However, the most effective vaccine must be obtained using modern instrumental biotechnology methods and provide a targeted response to a particular virus strain. To achieve these goals, technologies have previously been developed and approved by the European and international responsible authorities for obtaining vaccine material: from attenuated, non-pathogenic pathogens to recombinant vectors carrying genetically modified copies of the virus antigens. Specifically, this study discusses the most popular forms of vaccine that have gained public acceptance worldwide: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

Problem Statement

The emergence of the threat of SARS-CoV-2, which causes the dangerous respiratory tract infection COVID-19, has served as a significant challenge for the world. To develop a collective immunity and thus protect humanity, many laboratories worldwide have developed vaccine formulations with the potential to fight COVID-19. The vaccines discussed, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, have qualitatively different ways of biochemically protecting the body and, as a result, different efficacy.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to conduct a detailed review of the available data revealing the biochemical features of the clinical effects of the four vaccines discussed.

Scope and Limitations

This study was performed as part of an undergraduate degree program and therefore follows high academic standards of quality. The scope of the work is determined by the breadth of the study of global health threats and vaccine efficacy and thus is characterized by considerable relevance to the agenda. Some limitations that may hinder the scaling of the findings should be emphasized. First, vaccine preparations are still undergoing clinical trials on a large sample, so it is too early to assert definitive credible data on their safety and efficacy. Second, the sources selected for this paper were initially filtered for a writing language: every one of them was written in English. There remains the possibility of ignoring potentially valuable data from those publications that have not yet been translated. Finally, only four current vaccines were studied in the paper, which means that the results obtained can hardly be approximated to the preventive drugs.

Significance of the Study

Few scientific papers to date have done a comprehensive review of several vaccines simultaneously, thus providing a comparative analysis. On the other hand, the study is characterized by high practical relevance, as the results shed light on the efficacy and safety parameters of the vaccines studied. Moreover, the source review reveals useful information about the biochemical composition of the activity of such drugs, and therefore the research work is meaningful for students, physicians, and other interested parties.

Literature Review

Among the existing clinical tools for controlling infectious diseases, vaccines should be given special attention. In contrast to classical drug treatment, vaccination is a preventive therapy to generate an immune response (CoviĂĄn et al., 2020). The general pattern of forming an immune response through vaccines is the same. By injecting a foreign antigen into the patient’s body, it produces its antibodies, making it easier to recognize and capture the pathogen if future infections. Each vaccine has a targeted effect against a specific infectious agent since the mechanism of action of the drugs aims to create antibodies to specific antigens. On the other hand, vaccines differ in their methodological approaches to creation: either whole viruses or their fragments can be used as the critical protective agent. This literature review examines various aspects of the vaccination phenomenon. The review focuses on the specific vaccine products with the greatest international acceptance as a means of controlling COVID-19 infection, namely Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

Variety of Vaccines

Vaccines were thought to be defined as introducing only a dead, weakened pathogen into the human body so that the immune system could develop a preventive response to the active infectious agent. In reality, this information is outdated, as the methodology of modern vaccines has evolved considerably. Current biotechnological advances make it possible to obtain vaccines from at least two different technologies. This concerns both the injection of whole attenuated pathogen and a more innovative scheme to introduce its key fragments. Attenuated vaccines are a historical legacy of the last century, but within the current reality, the use of attenuated pathogens is often considered more expensive, unreliable, and difficult to transport and store biological material. Moreover, the technology itself for producing such a vaccine loses significantly in clinical safety, as lab technicians must have a constant supply of active viruses to obtain attenuated material. This in itself creates high pressure on the technical equipment requirement of the laboratory. The virus attenuation procedure is standardly implemented through mutation initiation, and therefore the selection of competent vectors becomes more difficult (Inagaki et al., 2021). An additional threat to the method is the inability to use the drug in immune-compromised patients, whether HIV-infected, pregnant, elderly, or children.

The immune system can create an effective protective response to a whole pathogen and its fragments. This assertion is based on a thorough understanding of the causal mechanisms that determine the formation of the immune response. For example, when a pathogen enters the body with an antigen, antibodies are formed by blood B-cells through a series of cascade reactions (Woodruff et al., 2020). There is no need to inject the whole virus, but fragments of its active parts that trigger an immune response are sufficient. For this purpose, a surface protein is used, which is produced in vast quantities using genetic engineering methods (CoviĂĄn et al., 2020). Notably, low-molecular-weight proteins are rarely immunogenic, so manufacturers use antigen-carrying vectors harmless to the human body. As can be seen, this method is considered to be safer for the human body, but the genetically engineered part of it requires significant time resources.

Genetic Characteristics of Vaccines

The action of vaccines is based on the interaction of the genetic material of the injected drug with the internal structures of the immune cells. Depending on which genetic molecule forms the basis of the vaccine, DNA or mRNA, there are two different vaccine technologies. In vector adenovirus vaccines, the drug injection contains third-party viruses that cannot replicate and are equipped with copies of SARS-CoV-2 genes. The list of such vaccines includes AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson: the drugs are injected intramuscularly, from where they enter the immune cells and start the triggering mechanisms of biosynthesis of the S protein of the coronavirus.

On the alternative side are mRNA vaccines, which have an RNA molecule. Vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna deliver a ready-made instruction to target cells to synthesize a protein antigen, in response to which the human immune system produces its antibodies (Venkadapathi et al., 2021). Thus, unlike AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna drugs do not require the use of defective viruses and thus are suitable for more immunocompromised people (Thompson et al., 2021). Consequently, mRNA vaccine production can be more extensive and adaptive: this is especially true in mutant strains. Finally, the most clear gap between the two types of vaccines used is how precisely the immune response is formed. Unlike vector adenovirus vaccines, mRNA vaccines can be administered an unlimited number of times since the patient’s immune system creates a response to the adenovirus vector, meaning that repeated administration of such a DNA vaccine would be ineffective. This leads to a necessary practical consequence: if the patient has already had an infection with this adenovirus before, the vector vaccine will not help him.

The Essence of the Two Types of Vaccines

The composition of mRNA vaccines is the same since the preparations contain a lipid shell and genetic material. Pfizer and Moderna present a lipid capsule having a fragment of mRNA encoding the S-protein complex SARS-CoV-2. The point of this lipid envelope is not only to protect the internal contents from destruction but also to ease the entry of the component of Pfizer and Moderna into the cell by absorbing the lipid particle into the cell (Figure 4). The mRNA vaccine will stay in the target cell in the enveloped state until the lipid capsule is destroyed due to changes in the pH of the environment. According to Guevara et al. (2020), the conditions for mRNA encapsulation must necessarily be weakly acidic to break down the fat barrier of the vaccine chemically. Once the foreign genetic material leaves the envelope, the phase of active protein biosynthesis begins: mRNA enters the endoplasmic reticulum, where protein translation occurs under the action of rRNA. Subsequently, such proteins are released outside the cell using the functions of the Golgi apparatus, after which the immune system, triggers the process of biochemical protection against the foreign protein. Concerning Pfizer and Moderna, it should be said that the immunogenic, provocative function is performed not by the added adjuvants but by the lipid membrane itself. In other words, the lipid capsule of the mRNA vaccine is modified to simplify the biochemical composition of the preparation.

Lipid envelope forms 
Figure 4. Lipid envelope forms 

The choice of the S-protein for targeting Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is not accidental. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to use S-proteins to bind to cell receptors, and this mechanism is implemented via the RBD domain on the peplomer that recognizes the ACE2 receptor (Lainscek et al., 2020). Consequently, blocking these S-proteins by antibodies previously generated from plasma cells results in the inability of SARS-CoV-2 to actively bind to the target cell. Notably, the nature of the antibody-protein S-protein bond is based on a unique epitope-paratope interaction in which a particular antibody specifically and selectively binds to the pathogen antigen. In this context, it is essential to note that the molecular size of the S-protein is 1273 amino acids, while the size of the RBD domain does not exceed 222 amino acids (Taib et al., 2021). Considering that only a few amino acids are sufficient to connect the epitope to the paratope, it is relevant to emphasize that each S-protein has a whole host of epitopes for binding to the ACE2 receptor. As a result, the immune system must develop unique antibodies to eliminate the possibility of infection in future attacks.

In addition to next-generation vaccines, technically more sophisticated drugs such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are gaining widespread popularity. The point of the biochemical action of such vector vaccines is to introduce into the body a DNA virus from which the E1 and E3 genes have been previously removed, and an S-protein-producing gene added instead. AstraZeneca uses the recombinant ChAdOx1 virus as the adenovirus, while Johnson & Johnson uses rAd26 to stabilize conformation (Graham et al., 2020). As a result, the adenovirus vector vaccine uses only natural mechanisms of immune system activation, so it is especially important that it cannot weaken the immune system in any way. The vector preliminarily restricts the ability to replicate, so the individual should not get sick with adenovirus infection, much less coronavirus. Unlike mRNA vaccines, vector vaccines require less stringent conditions to maintain their biological activity. AstraZeneca has been shown to use the preservative EDTA to preserve the conformational activity of proteins (Pancevski, 2021). There are opinions that EDTA can provoke thrombosis in inoculated patients, but there is insufficient reliable evidence to suggest that this is true. Occurrences of thrombosis have also been characteristic of Johnson & Johnson vaccinated patients. It has been reported that in the case of these vector vaccines, the possibility of coronavirus proteins entering the nucleus of the target cell leading to the death of the latter has not been excluded (Kowarz et al., 2021). As a result, such fragments entered the bloodstream and led to the formation of lethal clots. Notably, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines based on a different mechanism did not lead to thrombosis, which means that the problem may indeed lie in need for the viral gene to be transcribed in the host cell.

Intermediate Efficacy of Vaccines

Most approved vaccines are still being clinically evaluated on a large sample of people, gathering information about possible side effects and adverse events. For this reason, the effectiveness of the vaccines is estimated to be relative, not finite. Pfizer was initially rated at 95% efficacy in suppressing symptomatic disease when approved by the FDA, with efficacy remaining at 90% when fully immunized (Thompson et al., 2021). Against new strains of SARS-CoV-2, Pfizer’s efficacy was only 88%. The proven efficacy of Moderna is slightly lower at 94.1%, with efficacy decreasing to 90% for complete immunization. Johnson & Johnson’s estimated efficacy is only 72% and 86% for severe disease (Zimmer et al., 2021). Finally, the overall efficacy for the AstraZeneca vector vaccine is less than 76% and 100% for therapy of complicated cases (Vogel & Kupferschmidt, 2021). In general, without a plausibility analysis, it can be seen that mRNA vaccines appear to be more effective compared to adenoviral, which have, among others, cases of severe side effects.

As this literature review has shown, two lines of vaccines for the formation of artificial immunity against COVID-19 are currently relevant. Vector vaccines use weak viral agents that transfer the gene of interest into human cells. mRNA vaccines are more advanced forms and are represented by a lipid shell having genetic material. The proven efficacy of mRNA vaccines is comparably higher, with less overall evidence of possible adverse events for such drugs. Thus, vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna show better performance compared to Johnson & Johnson’s and AstraZeneca.


In order to provide a comprehensive survey of the comparative effectiveness of the vaccines and the virus itself, we carried out a systematic review of the data available on the internet. Namely, we thoroughly examined multiple network databases with exact information about different issues present in the paper. Notably, we attempted to include only open access sources to demonstrate the non-for-profit character of the medical research on the topic. Because the COVID-19 epidemic situation and the vaccines’ effectiveness are of crucial meaning for nowadays world, there is a plentiful amount of surveys with free access. Thus, we decided to investigate and evaluate the information from various online databases.

Study Design

We conducted a series of operations during research assemblage to maintain a large-scale data observation and accurate systematic review. Firstly, we have defined the objectives and limited the scope of the research to present specific information about the coronavirus and vaccines preventing its spread and negative causes for the population. We have included the information from various journals of the USA and Europe, excluding sources concerning other countries and written in other languages than English. The reason behind this choice is that the selected data sources could be universally accessed and adequately understood by the majority of people. The sources for the survey comprise databases with scientific articles from various medical journals, scientific publications from professionals in the topic, as well as popular newspapers, which are reviewed in detail further. The journals were evaluated on the subject of credibility and meaningness for the research to supply only valuable and reliable data. Finally, we compared the information from the selected sources and deliberately picked the most appropriate, relevant, and presentable material for inclusion. Thus, the research contains the processed multiplicity of data stated in a concise manner.


The first valuable source with possibilities for searching for information concerning the current state of scientific knowledge about the coronavirus varieties and recently developed vaccines is MDPI. The organization is primarily concerned with publishing scientific articles in its journals focused on various areas of medicine and biology. On the website of the company, numerous researches from academic communities are published on the open access policy. In the survey, we used the PubMed database, a part of the MDPI global project, since it contains high-quality papers in an online access form. We examined several studies related to the topic of the survey and decided to introduce the most important findings.


The other database with ample medicine and biological content could be found on Frontiers. The platform presents open access works from various journals predominantly in English. Yet, authors from different countries participate in the process of global information exchange, which makes the database even more significant because of its multicultural perspective. We searched information specifically in the subsections of immunology, molecular biosciences, and chemistry for information related to virus infections and their prevention. The publisher provides a peer-review system for each work present in their service so that data is guaranteed to be credible. Additionally, the website’s impact metrics ensure the possibility of a reasonable evaluation of the background of research.


National Library of Medicine, a part of the National Center for Biotechnology Information organization, is apparently essential for the search procedure during the research about a disease. The database links multiple websites with relevant medical literature, as well as journals of the USA. We decided to use the NIH for the survey because of its vast online archives with reviews of researches or even full-text articles on the topic. The company aims at the global exchange of information to enhance the health and well-being of the US population and the whole world. Such values yield to the prosperity of novel data on the currently important issues. Thus, we considered it a valuable resource and examined the various content that it supplies.


The great chance of lethal outcome caused by COVID-19 disease is incredibly relatable to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mission. The organization is remarkable for its involvement in the publication of medications-specific researches. Then, the vaccines are of particular importance for the online version of the worldwide public health company’s project. We selected the database for the demonstrativeness of the statistics frequently present in the researches of the site. The quantitative approach is significant for any comprehensive survey on a topic that needs precise information. Since COVID-19 vaccines belong to such a topic, the database was helpful for the search.


Being an international journal with a well-grounded reputation, Nature provides access to numerous researches and articles of different complexity levels. Thus, we chose to incorporate the data prepared by the journal in our survey. Moreover, Nature Partner Journals, a project under Nature supervision, publishes articles in the subsection “Vaccines,” which is of particular importance for the research. All the materials distributed by the organization are publicly available in the online regime. Most papers contain suitable statistics and illustrative graphs, a significant feature for the content related to medicine and science behind it. Therefore, entailing the information from Nature was apparently necessary for our study.

Research Square

The following database worth our consideration is somewhat different from the previously described ones. Namely, Research Square is beneficial for its function as the publisher of early access papers. The specific advantage of the journal in the current research is that articles related to the spread of coronaviruses and the effectiveness of vaccines for them could be read and analyzed as soon as their authors sent them to the portal. Usually, it takes a long time to publish a scientific article, which is entirely adverse in the situation of a disastrous pandemic. In turn, Research Square contains overviews and abstracts of research from authoritative scholars to be published on more popular platforms. We used the site because of its ability to help us with the most recent information on the topic.


The New England Journal of Medicine, although not an international organization, yet is essential for the search for medical information. Its main goal is to provide an opportunity for professionals in the sphere of diseases prevention and treatment to share their manuscripts. The administration of the journal examines all the works and delivers detailed reviews of their value and credibility. The advanced scientific materials stored on the organization’s website are related explicitly to the current state of global health. We searched through the database to attain the most practical information about coronavirus and the various types of vaccines.


The World Health Organization is undoubtedly a reputable source of information about the health state of people from various countries and groups of the population. The impact of virus infection is announced on the website of the association and updated frequently. Additionally, WHO links the statistical information about the disease’s influence on humans’ well-being with scientific summaries. Also, the organization is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the currently available medication. Hence, it is considered necessary to our research and used when necessary.


The Wall Street Journal may seem improper for providing medical care, biology, chemistry, and immunology information. However, the online version of the newspaper presents a satisfactory database with statistics about the emergence of world politics, economics, and health care as well. Since all the fields of human activity interact, the Wall Street Journal considers any information about important events and their interconnection. The journal obtains access to various types of data, including reports about the use of vaccines. As a result, the processing of the sample data by the organization is helpful for the research.

The New York Times

The other information publisher that presents information in the form of online-accessible articles by specialists in multiple fields in the New York Times. Although some content published by the journal may be considered provocative or politically engaged, health matters are trustworthy. The issue of safe vaccination and informing people about the nature and danger coming from the COVID-19 infections are of great value for the community and the journal as media. It attempts to provide people with the most valuable and updated data arranged in a way that as many persons as possible can understand. Accordingly, we resolved to consider the information from the New York Times as well as scientific researches.

Analysis & Findings

For the purpose of conducting meaningful and accurate research, we have examined multiple sources available in scientific journals, which were found via the help of particular databases. Additionally, we included the information gathered by journals that are not science-specific yet relatable to the research topic and present important insight into the current pandemic situation. During our research, we analyzed the researches of reputable authors that implied experimentations or detailed data overviews. Further, we examined statistics that were often bestowed by publishers and the background information as to the process of its gathering. We compared the sample populations from various researches and included only data concerning the American and European populations. The reason for this was precise in our survey and reveal the most exact information possible. Moreover, the four types of vaccines described in the study are used predominantly in the regions mentioned above. It is logical to evaluate their effectiveness in the areas of their most frequent application.

The Use of Online Databases and Information Portals

The two types of COVID-19 vaccines were searched through the majority of the discussed databases. Yet, some researches were more preferable for the survey. They provided highly detailed information about the work of the vaccines of mRNA and Vector type and were used in the study to highlight the most important for understanding the act of vaccines data. As such, Inagaki et al. (2021), who published their paper in MDPI, demonstrated a sophisticated description of the Vector vaccines’ work. The other important work on the topic was from Woodruff et al. (2020), available at the NIH database. We considered that the thorough account of the reactions involved in immunological processes is suitable for our research. In turn, CoviĂĄn et al. (2020) researched the mechanisms of the vaccines’ work and outlined them in their paper in Frontiers of Immunology. Furthermore, the introductory information of Thompson et al. (2021) read from CDC presented an updated view on the modern two types of vaccines and their specific structure for preventing COVID-19 disease. Finally, Pancevski (2021), in his article for the Wall Street Journal, briefly describes the difference between the practical mechanisms of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Thus, the review of information on the question of the different vaccines’ work is thoroughly discussed in the scientific community and popular media.

Next, we aimed to describe the scientific basis between the technologies that provide the effectiveness of the vaccines serving for preventing the spread of coronaviruses. Several pieces of research were used to deliver information about the mechanisms of the medications. Among them are works that we have highlighted earlier, such as Inagaki et al. (2021), Thompson et al. (2021), and Woodruff et al. (2020), which describe the work of the vaccines both in general scientific terms and circumstances of particular medications. Thus, NIH, CDC, and Frontiers (specifically Immunology subsection) reveal the most appropriate preventive methods for preventing the infection spread, which could be expected from the specificity of topics that the databases aim to cover. Additionally, Lainscek (2020) published a paper in MDPI where meaningful pieces of information as for the vaccines are demonstrated illustratively. It could be stated that the issue of the scientific description of the design and operation of the vaccines is well organized and represented in multiple databases.

The biochemical composition of the RNA protein is also considered significant for the comprehension of the vaccines’ work, their development, evaluation, and improvement. The structure of the nuclear parts was studied in great detail in the early stages of biochemistry researches; however, the study of its practical application in the sphere of immunology has been considered valuable only recently. Nevertheless, we managed to find information about the interrelation of the RNA composition and functions and the work of the vaccines based on knowledge from cellular and molecular biology. Specifically, Venkadapathi et al. (2021) mentioned the methods used by biochemists to develop treatments for infectious diseases. Also, Guevara et al. (2020) described the same relation reasonably competently in spite of the fact that the state of practice of the mentioned vaccines differed from that of nowadays. However, these researchers provided an exemplary overview of the technologies based on mRNA. This information helps to gain an understanding of the prevention mechanisms of currently existent vaccines. In fact, the question of the RNA structure analysis was not covered as thoroughly as others, but the technological basis behind the vaccines is adequately described.

Yet, to estimate the effectiveness of the different types of vaccines, it is essential to deliver information about the structure, genome, and mode of infection of SARS-COV-2. Fortunately, we examined numerous studies that are concerned with this topic. These researches come predominantly from the scholarly article from Rokni et al. (2020), who explicitly explained the virus’s composition. The database where we found this survey (Wiley Online Library) was not considered necessary at first. However, we understood that it provides access to free research material on the same level as others discussed earlier. Further, several different works are worth mentioning in the context of the SARS-COV-2 structure. Namely, Varga et al. (2020), CoviĂĄn et al. (2020), and Xia et al. (2021). The last research was done by professionals in cell biology that are not USA or European citizens. Yet, they used the English language in their work, which helped regain more diverse data for our research. Thence, the pathogen’s structure that causes COVID-19 is precisely studied and can be accessed in multiple journals.

Then, the four different vaccines were compared and evaluated with the help of several scales. To produce the most accurate analysis of the topic that relies on quantitative data, we mainly invoked the various types of journals that contained statistics. Unexpectedly, the primary sources for inclusion of the comparison highlights were not medical journals but databases that provide access to varied academic materials. Moreover, newspapers tend to be more precise in their estimates of the different vaccines’ effectiveness. Our sources for evaluation comprised Thompson et al. (2021), Vogel et al. (2021), Kowarz et al. (2021), and Zimmer et al. (2021). We decided to include these very researches and articles because of their recent publication dates and relatively well-described statistical methods and references. Moreover, we assumed it is significant to mention various approaches to the mentioned authors’ population samples. For example, complicated cases of infection are considered to be differentiated from the intermediate effectiveness of the vaccines. Thus, data with statistical information comes from varied sources, which is justified for the research.

With the emergence of coronaviruses’ mutations, it is vital to keep updates about the vaccines’ reactions to the changes of the pathogen they are aimed to prevent from spreading. The Delta variant of the virus has been developing recently, so that the literature about its structure and interaction with vaccines was expected to be scarce. Nevertheless, we tried to find information about this matter in the databases that we considered potentially content with such knowledge. As a result, we examined the work of Bernal et al. (2021) and found that it contained data about the new infectious pathogen. Yet, the information was not so detailed as for the structure of SARS-COV-2. We compared its data to the WHO (2021) statistics, which also provided a general overview of the Delta variant and recommendations for diminishing its spread. It could be concluded that the current state of knowledge about the emerging threat from novel coronavirus variants is not yet satisfying.

Finally, the research attempted to assess the safety of the four vaccines. Since there is only limited quantitative data about this kind of information, we decided to describe the measures of safety envisaged by the vaccines’ designers and the risks shown by the negative cases of vaccination. For the former suggestion we used the general description of the vaccines’ works performed by Graham et al. (2020). In this research, a brief account on this matter was provided, and, as a result, we incorporated it into our survey. In turn, the probable adverse effects of particular vaccines due to their construction are discussed in Kowarz et al. (2021). Henceforth, we included the most appropriate data on the matter of protection devices incorporated into the design of the vaccines.


The systematic review that we provided in the research concerned the limited amount of questions. The majority of them were answered with the help of the most recent works from reputable sources as well as the media. We selected a number of databases that contained MDPI, Frontiers, NIH, CDC, Nature, Research Square, NEJM, WHO, and Wiley Online Library. We discovered that some statistics are more readily accessed through such platforms as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The data was ample on the topics of vaccines’ technical, morphological, and genetic characteristics. Moreover, the scholars thoroughly described the four most popular and scientifically approved vaccines and referenced them in the popular journals with news-structured content. The situation is the same with the description of the coronaviruses: these are observed and studied in great detail. However, the problems of the vaccines’ safety, effectiveness against the new variant of coronavirus, and the exact mechanism of the RNA structure relation are not researched on the same high level as the previous topics.

The research showed what the available online information reveals about the pandemic, its causes, and methods of its ceasing. The pathogenic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 induce COVID-19. The virus develops rapidly and produces new mutations that cause an even more destructive impact on people. The dominant method of reducing the adverse outcomes of the viruses’ spread is vaccination, supported by the academic sphere and governments of the USA and Europe. The existing two types of vaccines work with different levels of effectiveness; in most cases, they are safe for use but cannot handle the Delta variant of the virus with much effectiveness. The research shows mixed results of informativeness concerning different aspects of the problematic situation with the disease caused by the virus.

Discussion, Implication, & Conclusion

In the early stage of research, we discovered that there are no comprehensive overviews of the current situation connected to the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Namely, the currently published peer-reviewed scholarly articles contain information about various areas of the problem. Yet, no general analysis and extensive data processing have been conducted. This lack of systematic evaluation is due to the emergency of the issue and the novelty of the problem. Currently, the majority of researches is concerned with specific data about coronaviruses and vaccines. Thus, the fragments of knowledge about the vaccination have been gathered in this study to present a holistic understanding of the problem in one paper.

Some aspects of the research were not covered explicitly for several essential reasons. First of all, it was discovered that only scarce data concerns the topic of the direct relationship between the study of RNA structure and the operative abilities of the vaccines. One of the reasons for this is that the problem of viral infections has not been damaging to all the spheres of human activities. Despite the fact that the issue is overwhelming and important, it primarily serves more of a theoretical purpose that primarily affects the vaccines’ effectiveness. It may be challenging to discern this matter among others when a practical solution determines the priorities of the researches. Moreover, the vaccines are developed relatively recently, which indicates that data about them is only beginning to emerge. In the foreseeable future, there would probably be more considerations on the topic of the exact mechanisms involved in the work of vaccines. Therefore, the state of the data is about to change when the vaccination problem would be less urgent.

Next, the effect of the Delta variant of coronavirus is not yet studied in the same exact matter as other types. Obviously, it is caused by the recentness of its emergence while the vaccines aimed to prevent the already well-observed viruses. The four types of vaccines serve as an immediate solution for the existing problem and demonstrate high effectiveness if the conditions in which they have been developed are considered. The effectiveness of the preventive methods against the Delta virus is not well-studied, specifically in the USA and Europe compared to Canada. It may reveal information about the origin of the disadvantageous mutations. Currently, medical organizations publish guidelines on preventing the spread of the new variant, which is the most appropriate option in the conditions of limited comprehension of the issue.

In turn, the majority of questions discussed in the research have answers in multiple journals and databases. This notion is important because it demonstrates the high efforts of researchers worldwide to develop an effective solution for the pandemic disaster. Predominantly, the information is published on the platforms with free access and online, which is evident in the united attempt to share knowledge about the most crucial problem nowadays. Moreover, the data is accurate, specific, and illustrative for the purpose of shared understanding of the nature and outcomes of the viral infection. Hence, the global scholar community displayed an outstanding level of cooperation while faced with disease of such a scale.


The research is valuable for the scientific community and people profoundly interested and concerned about the current state of knowledge of the development and effectiveness of the vaccine. Namely, the general audience can investigate the nature of the current global COVID-19 problem since the language of the research is concise and comprehensible. Moreover, the study presents a short overview of the data instead of a detailed evaluation which may be more insightful for the majority of the English-speaking population. Yet, the sources are also mentioned so that the research’s credibility may be estimated accordingly. Also, the sources mentioned are entirely free and could be accessed even by those with no available resources for gaining scientific articles. Therefore, one of the important implications of the research is its openness to an average English-speaking reader.

The other goal of the current research is to demonstrate the gathered data for scholars as well as recognize the issues in the state of knowledge of the problem. The research contains a brief analysis of multiple sources on the specific range of questions, yet under a broad topic. The bibliography provided by the survey may be helpful for a quick overview of the most relevant information about the vaccines and the COVID-19 itself. Moreover, even the limited scope of the research demonstrated that there are areas that need further detailed research. For example, it is apparent that the problem of the relation between RNA structure and the four particular vaccines is essential but not appropriately surveyed. Next, the vaccines must be constantly evaluated for their effectiveness and safety to make some improvements. Yet, the answer to the question of safety can be found only in researches that aim to explain other concepts. Thus, the issue should be resolved directly. The situation is similar to the challenge that emerged because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. The vaccines must be improved due to the mutations that begin to affect their effectiveness. Otherwise, a new surge of infection cases may result in even more dramatic consequences for humanity. Hence, the field of study that concerns the immunology related to the coronavirus problem should consider additional topics for the research.


One of the main threats to the international health system remains the new COVID-19 coronavirus infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. SARS-CoV-2 is a virus of natural origin and is well-studied; yet, the coronaviruses develop mutations that present challenges to the scientific world. There are two different vaccine technologies to prevent the spread of the disease with a probability of a mortal outcome. In vector-based adenovirus vaccines, the drug injection contains third-party viruses that cannot replicate and are equipped with copies of the SARS-CoV-2 genes. The list of such vaccines includes AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. They enter the immune cells and trigger the mechanisms for starting the biosynthesis of the S-protein of the coronavirus. On the alternative side, there are mRNA vaccines that contain an RNA molecule. Vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna deliver ready-made instructions to target cells to synthesize a protein antigen, in response to which the human immune system produces its antibodies. Both vaccines work effectively, although the first type is more compact and can help the population, which has a higher risk of adverse reaction on the vaccines. Some scholars debate the safety of vaccines since certain features of the medications can produce harmful effects on the health of vaccinated patients. This aspect and the scientific basis between the RNA structure and its linkage to the vaccines should be studied by researchers more thoroughly.


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Cite this paper


NerdyBro. (2022, October 26). The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines. Retrieved from


NerdyBro. (2022, October 26). The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines.

Work Cited

"The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." NerdyBro, 26 Oct. 2022,


NerdyBro. (2022) 'The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines'. 26 October.


NerdyBro. 2022. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.


NerdyBro. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.


NerdyBro. 2022. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.

1. NerdyBro. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.


NerdyBro. "The Biochemical and Technological Basis Behind the Four Different COVID Vaccines." October 26, 2022.