Moderna’s covid vaccine far more effective against Delta variant than Pfizer, J&J

By Neetu Chandra Sharma
Real-world data show that vaccines are highly effective at reducing covid-19 related hospitalisations and emergency department visits, even in the presence of the new variants. (Photo: AFP)

NEW DELHII: Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine is significantly more effective against the Delta variant than that of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, a study done by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. 

Data published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) journal indicated that all vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalisations and emergency department visits caused by the Delta variant.

The CDC’s VISION Network analysed more than 32,000 medical encounters from nine states during June-August 2021 when the Delta variant was the predominant strain. Results showed that unvaccinated individuals with covid-19 were five to seven times more likely to need emergency care or hospitalisation, similar to the overall effectiveness prior to the variant.

The study in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is the first analysis from the VISION Network to show a marked difference between the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer). In the study’s time period, Moderna was 95% effective at preventing hospitalisations among adults ages 18 and older, Pfizer was 80% effective at preventing hospitalisations among adults aged 18 and older. Johnson & Johnson was 60% effective at preventing hospitalisations among adults of 18 years and older.

“These real-world data show that vaccines remain highly effective at reducing covid-19 related hospitalisations and emergency department visits, even in the presence of the new covid-19 variant," said study author Shaun Grannis, Regenstrief Institute vice president for data and analytics and professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. “We strongly recommend vaccinations for all who are eligible to reduce serious illness and ease the burden on our healthcare system."

The study also found that vaccine effectiveness was lower for people who were 75 years and older, which did not show in previous research. This could be due to a range of factors, including the increased time since vaccination. When it came to preventing emergency department and urgent care visits, analysis showed that Moderna was 92% effective, Pfizer was 77% effective, Johnson & Johnson was 65% effective. Scientists say these findings need further monitoring and evaluation.

“Despite the differences in effectiveness, vaccines continue to offer much more protection than not getting one at all," said Grannis. “While breakthrough cases do happen, data shows the symptoms are less severe. The vast majority of covid hospitalisations and deaths continue to be among unvaccinated individuals. covid-19 vaccines are powerful tools for combating the pandemic."

The VISION network, funded by the CDC, includes seven organisations that contribute and analyse data from the US healthcare to learn more about covid-19 vaccine effectiveness. In addition to Regenstrief Institute, other members are Columbia University Irving Medical Center, HealthPartners, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Northwest and University of Colorado.

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