This week, the Moderna vaccine starts arriving at 3,600 pharmacies across Australia, including regional areas. It will be accessible to anyone over 12 years old.
Until now, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs were our only option, and they’ve taken up so much emotional space in the national psyche, it’s almost weird to bring in a third wheel.
There’s not the same thrill about Moderna – and yet, if there is to be a “better” vaccine, maybe Moderna is this one.
Why are we only learning this now?
Two studies, published this week, confirm that Moderna jab elicits a stronger immune response than our coveted Pfizer jab – and that its effectiveness wanes much more slowly.
Wednesday, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study of 5,000 US health workers who received either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine.
Both vaccines “have been very effective under real conditions in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in healthcare workers.”
But the study found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88.8% effective, compared to 96.3% for Moderna.
In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against hospitalization increased from 91% to 77% after four months and after the second jab.
The Moderna went from 93 to 92 in the same period: virtually unchanged.
But weren’t they just as good?
The Moderna is a product of new mRNA technology, much like the Pfizer jab, which has something akin to heroic status in Australia. In the minds of many people, the Pfizer was the jab to get. And it’s a good move, that’s for sure.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines came out of their clinical trials with almost identical results in terms of efficacy against symptomatic infections: 95% for Pfizer-BioNTech and 94% for Moderna.
You’ve probably read that they were pretty much tied. They seemed just as effective.
With the new vaccines, however, performance over time reveals limitations, quirks, and problems. The comparison becomes more complicated.
The AstraZeneca was pummeled as one also ran.
Then studies showed that the effectiveness of Pfizer decreased.
Punch: like UKTN reported last month, studies had found that over time, two doses of Pfizer and two doses of AstraZeneca were in fact equivalent – in terms of preventing serious illness and hospitalization.
And now Moderna has flown to Australia.
The “hammer” of vaccines
All three vaccines offer good protection against serious illness and hospitalization. The big question with COVID-19 vaccines now is booster shots.
When are they supposed to happen? Who should they give them to? Is the difference between these vaccines a real problem?
In a large piece of The New York Times, asks John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “But really, how much does this difference matter in the real world?” “
He added: “It is not appropriate for people who have taken Pfizer to panic thinking they have received an inferior vaccine.
Dr Jeffrey Wilson, an immunologist and physician at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told the new York Times: “In high-risk populations, this might be relevant. It would be nice if people watched closely.
Then he added: “Pfizer is a big hammer… Moderna is a hammer.”