Does Moderna's Vaccine Protect Against COVID-19 Infection Better Than Pfizer's?

Over the last year, differences in COVID-19 vaccine efficacy between Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have been studied to determine their level of protection against new and emerging variants. One such example was a study published in December 2021 conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in conjunction with the Veterans Administration (VA), in which the risk of complications, hospitalization, and COVID-19 related death was found to be slightly reduced in veterans who had received the Moderna vaccine compared to Pfizer recipients as measured over the course of 24 weeks (via Harvard T.H. Chan).

Building on this growing subject of research, a new study published in Frontiers in Immunology has tracked both the short-term and long-term efficacy of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to determine which provides the greatest level of antibody protection up to a period of ten months following full vaccination (via HealthDay). Researchers monitored 114 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 114 people who had received two doses of Moderna, and six individuals who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Decreases in antibody protection shown to be greater in Pfizer recipients

HealthDay reports that 20 days after having been fully vaccinated, Johnson & Johnson recipients showed to have the lowest levels of antibody protection — 50 times lower compared to those of Moderna and Pfizer.

After 20 days, researchers observed decreases in antibody levels in both Moderna and Pfizer recipients, with Pfizer recipients experiencing more of a dip than those vaccinated with Moderna. Additionally, by six months, Pfizer antibody levels had fallen below the antibody levels of people who had been hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19.

Furthermore, the research revealed that age seemed to influence the number of antibodies generated in Pfizer recipients, with younger individuals found to produce more antibodies than older individuals. Age did not appear to impact antibody numbers in Moderna recipients.

Immunologist and study senior author Dr. Jeffrey Wilson comments on the significance of their findings via HealthDay, stating, "Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have proven very effective in protecting against severe disease, but our study builds on others that have shown some subtle differences in outcomes that favor Moderna."