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Pfizer and Modern’s COVID vaccines may not work the same over time

Pfizer and Modern’s COVID vaccines may not work the same over time

Recent data suggest that Modern coronavirus vaccine may maintain a higher efficacy over time than Pfizers.

Why it is important: The efficacy gap can always disappear with more data, and both vaccines remain very effective against serious disease. But if the hole does not hold, it raises the question of whether the two vaccines should be treated in the same way politically.

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Drive the news: Several studies — both pre-printed and those that have been peer-reviewed — have found a difference between the efficacy of the two vaccines over time, although some experts have warned that this may be due to deficient head-to-head comparisons.

  • Studies have evaluated various measures of efficacy, but all have found that efficacy against serious illness is still relatively high.

  • “There have been kinds of signals from enough separate sources that are starting to draw a picture that may reflect a real biological phenomenon – a real difference. I’m starting to think there’s something behind it,” Natalie said Dean, an Emery professor who specializes in the design of vaccine studies.

Zoom in: In a study published last week, the CDC found that Moderna was significantly more effective against hospitalizations and emergency departments or acute treatments than the Pfizer or J&J vaccinations.

Between the lines: Pfizer was the first vaccine approved for use in the United States and began to be administered several weeks before the Moderna vaccine.

  • “Because of the way the rollouts happened, the oldest and most vulnerable and sickest people, as well as residents of nursing homes, got Pfizer,” said Cornell virologist John Moore.

  • This means that it is possible that some of the efficiency gap that appears in some studies is a result of Pfizer being administered earlier and in more vulnerable populations.

  • However, the large CDC study, which found a significant difference in vaccine efficacy, showed that Modernas were higher across all ages.

Possible reasons for the difference include that Moderna has a much higher dosing regimen than Pfizer, and the second shot is given after a slightly longer interval.

But: Both vaccines are almost identical in their ability to “do what a vaccine should do, which is protection against serious illness,” said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Bottom line: The modern data may be more similar to Pfizer’s after more time. But it may be unwise to use one as a proxy for the other.

  • “It’s not clear that every lesson we see from Pfizer is directly translated into Moderna,” Dean said. “I think if you asked this question a few months ago when there really was [weren’t] if there are signs of a difference, people would very much like to lump them together in their minds. “

What we see: There is much more data – especially from other countries, such as Israel – on Pfizer’s declining efficiency and booster shot effect on restoring efficiency to original levels.

  • However, if these data do not apply to Moderna, regulators may not yet have much data to work with when making booster decisions – a process that is already very controversial.

  • “We will not know the real Moderna-specific data for some time now about restoring efficiency and how durable it is,” said Eric Topol, Executive Vice President of Scripps Research.

  • Topol said that to some extent there have been signs that Moderna’s efficiency is declining over time. “It can just be longer and it can be smaller,” Topol added.

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