In other countries, dead vaccines are already approved, for example from the manufacturer Sinovac. Are they really safer?
All corona vaccines that have been approved in Germany so far are based on new medical technologies. The vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are so-called vector vaccines, the funds from Moderna and Biontech use mRNA technology. So far no dead vaccines.
We could soon have a classic dead vaccine against corona. The French company Valneva is researching the agent VLA2001. That could still be approved in the UK this year – and shortly thereafter in the EU.
Approved for use in Germany
Germany has already ordered eleven million cans. VLA2001 contains complete, killed corona viruses. In this way, the immune system forms antibodies against all components of the virus.
Vector vaccines work differently. They provide the body with a crucial part of the corona virus to activate the immune system. And mRNA vaccines get the body to make that part of the virus on its own in order to respond.
How do dead vaccines work?
The principle of dead vaccines has been used for decades. Is it therefore generally safer than the novel vaccines?
Such a blanket statement would be wrong, says Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, virologist at the University of Hamburg. “Although there is a long experience with certain dead vaccines, such as against hepatitis B, it is difficult to make a comparison.” Each vaccine must be considered and assessed individually.
So far, two dead vaccines have been approved in several countries, Sinovac and Sinopharm. Both come from Chinese companies. Studies from different countries name different protective effects of these dead vaccines – between 50 and 90 percent.
Corona vaccination: should you wait for the dead vaccines?
In Germany, no dead vaccines against the coronavirus have been vaccinated so far – in other countries they are. And for one of them, approval could be applied for here this year. But what exactly are dead vaccines and how do they work?
In general, there are different types of vaccines that work in different ways: whole virus vaccines – which include live vaccines and inactivated vaccines – vector vaccines, gene-based vaccines (mRNA or DNA vaccines), and protein-based vaccines (which are sometimes counted as a subset of inactivated vaccines , but they only contain selected virus proteins).
With regard to Covid-19, four vaccines are approved in Germany, two of which are vector vaccines (Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson) and two are mRNA vaccines (Biontech and Moderna). With the American Novavax , a candidate for protein vaccines is currently being developed, which has been under review by the EU Medicines Agency (EMA) in a rolling review process since March 2021.
That’s why Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) is waiting for the dead vaccines!
“Because I want to wait for long-term studies. I think there are a few other people at home who just have a few concerns, whatever their reasons. And I think that should also be respected.”
It is a declaration that worries and stirs up millions of Germans – an inner conflict, as many feel it. On the one hand: the concern about corona disease, the responsibility towards fellow citizens.
What are the different between dead vaccines and live vaccines?
There are different types of vaccine available for building up vaccination protection against various infectious diseases. A distinction is made between dead vaccines (inactivated vaccines) and attenuated live vaccines.
Inactivated vaccines – or inactivated vaccines – contain, according to their name, only killed pathogens that can no longer multiply, or only components of the pathogens. These are recognized by the body as foreign and stimulate the body’s own defense system to produce antibodies without the disease breaking out.
Inactivated vaccines include vaccines against:
- Hepatitis B
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
- Whooping cough
Live vaccines contain small amounts of reproductive pathogens, which have been weakened so that they do not cause the disease themselves. Only in rare cases can they lead to a mild “vaccine disease” – as is the case with so-called vaccine fibers. This is a mild, measles-like rash that can appear a few weeks after vaccination and is not contagious.
Live vaccines include vaccines against:
Frequently Asked Question about dead vaccines
What are dead vaccines and what diseases are they used for?
Inactivated vaccines – also known as inactivated vaccines – contain, as their name suggests, killed pathogens or just components of the pathogens. They can no longer multiply and they cannot cause disease.
The body recognizes the dead pathogens or fragments as foreign bodies. Most inactivated vaccines still need a potentiator because the killed pathogens alone are not enough to trigger an immune reaction. The recognized foreign bodies stimulate the body’s own defense system to produce antibodies without the disease actually breaking out.
Most vaccines belong to the dead vaccine category, as do most flu vaccines. It also includes vaccines against diphtheria, hepatitis B, polio (polio), whooping cough, tetanus and rabies.