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Contrasting Vaccines: Moderna vs. Pfizer, Which is More Efficient?

Pfizer and Moderna
Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The CDC has just disclosed the findings of a head-to-head comparison of all three COVID-19 vaccinations available in the United States, and Moderna’s comes out on top in terms of effectiveness.

Moderna Vaccine (Photo: Oasisamuel).

The study looked at 3,689 vaccinated persons hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and August and looked for antibodies in the blood of 100 healthy volunteers. While all three vaccines attest to provide “substantial” protection against severe sickness and hospitalization, CNN reported that one of the three immunizations had a minor advantage. The Pfizer vaccination shows 88 percent success at keeping individuals out of hospitals, while the Moderna vaccine appears to be 93 percent effective, per SF News.

Studies on Vaccine Efficacy

The CDC wrote in a weekly update that Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalization was higher for the Moderna vaccine (93 percent) than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (88 percent) and the Janssen vaccine (71 percent) among U.S. adults without immunocompromising conditions during March 11–August 15, 2021

Meanwhile, these real-world results imply some heterogeneity in vaccine levels of protection, all FDA-approved or permitted COVID-19 vaccines give significant protection against COVID-19 hospitalization.

The study also reveals that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness declines after four months, as demonstrated in a previous trial of 50,000 individuals published in August by the Mayo Clinic Health System. Moderna’s vaccine had a greater mRNA dosage, according to some experts.

Booster Shot. (Photo: Occupational Health and Safety)

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster

Furthermore, differences in vaccine effectiveness between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines could be due to higher mRNA content in the Moderna vaccine, differences in timing between doses (3 weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech versus four weeks for Moderna), or possible differences between groups that received each vaccine that was not accounted for in the analysis, per CDC team.

They believe that the work done by the CDC and its researchers will assist and guide individual choices and policy recommendations about vaccine boosters.

On the other hand, on Friday, an FDA panel met to evaluate prospective booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine and evidence of dangers or benefits from boosters. Hence, depending on what the FDA determines, the CDC will next have to issue a recommendation regarding who should get the booster shots, including elderly Americans, front-line health workers, and the immunocompromised.

Based on a report last August, the FDA is expected to prescribe boosters for many after eight months, but the dispute continues. Santa Clara County, in the Bay Area, has already started delivering booster shots to the immunocompromised.

Those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot in San Francisco, could get a booster dosage of Pfizer or Moderna at SF General.

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