We have two Covid vaccine vials in our History of Medicine Collection.
One is for the Astrazeneca vaccine, and the other is for the Pfizer vaccine.
The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford, and is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can't cause illness.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. Traditional vaccines use inactivated, dead, or portions of actual virus to create an immune response, while mRNA delivers a message to your body’s cells via a "lipid nanoparticle envelope" that instructs the cells to make the spike protein found on the surface of a coronavirus. This creates an immune response.
These vaccines were made as a response to the Covid pandemic which was declared in March 2020. Covid is a new type of coronavirus, and it quickly spread through the world's populations, as there was no natural immunity to it. Scientists worked at an usually fast pace in order to create vaccines which could protect people and allow societies to re-open after long periods of lockdowns.