Moderna Vaccine May Be More Effective Than Pfizer-BioNTech

Moderna recipients were less likely to experience COVID-19 breakthrough infections and hospitalizations than the Pfizer-BioNTech group.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended mRNA vaccination, citing it as the safest and most effective.

Now, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has reported that the Moderna (mRNA-1273) vaccine is better at preventing breakthrough infection and hospitalization than the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) vaccine.

Investigators used the cloud-based TriNetX Analytics Platform to obtain web-based, real-time electronic health records of 89 million patients from 63 health care networks. The study population represented 27% of the US population, including all 50 states and a wide range of geographic, age, race, ethnicity, income, and insurance groups.

The study included COVID-19 infections that occurred from July-November 2021, during which Delta was the dominant variant. Monthly incidence rates of breakthrough infections were compared between individuals vaccinated with 2 doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. The cohorts were matched for demographics, social determinants of health, transplants, and comorbidities previously correlated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection and disease. The Moderna cohort (n = 62584) was significantly older and had more comorbidities than the Pfizer-BioNTech cohort (n = 62584), but these disparities were mitigated after matching.

The Moderna recipients had a significantly lower risk of breakthrough infections than Pfizer-BioNTech recipients. 60 days after vaccination, the hospitalization risk was 12.7% for the Moderna cohort and 13.3% for the Pfizer recipients. The 60-day mortality was slightly higher for the Moderna group, 1.14%, than for the Pfizer cohort, at 1.1%, but the investigators did not consider this to be statistically significant. The Moderna recipients had a lower risk of hospitalization than the Pfizer group.

The Investigators concluded that Moderna was more effective than Pfizer-BioNTech at preventing breakthrough COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations during the Delta period.

“Although there is a difference in breakthrough infections, both vaccines are highly protective against SARS-COV2 infection and especially against the most severe consequences of infection,” said Pamela B. Davis, a coauthor of the study and the Arline and Curtis Garvin Research Professor in the Center for Community Health Integration. “Further studies are required to assess the results of booster doses and also the protection afforded especially vulnerable populations by vaccines.”