According to a new Mayo Clinic study that is still being reviewed, the risk of developing a breakthrough COVID-19 infection with the delta variant after being fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine may be much lower than the risk for those who received the Pfizer vaccine.
The study discovered that in July in Florida, where COVID cases are at an all-time high and the delta variant is prevalent, Moderna recipients had a 60% lower risk of a breakthrough case than Pfizer recipients.
Similarly, last month in Minnesota, the authors discovered that the Moderna vaccine (also known as mRNA-1273) was 76 percent effective at preventing infection, but the Pfizer vaccine was only 42 percent effective.
“When comparing infection rates between matched individuals fully vaccinated with mRNA-1273 versus BNT162b2 across multiple Mayo Clinic Health System sites in multiple states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, and Iowa), mRNA-1273 conferred a two-fold risk reduction against breakthrough infection compared to BNT162b2,” the authors wrote in their abstract.
To be sure, the authors discovered that both vaccines “strongly protect” against severe disease; the difference appears to be more about whether people become infected at all. According to the CDC, the risk of infection is 8x higher in the unvaccinated than in the vaccinated, as is the risk of hospitalization or death.
The so-called pre-print study, which has not been peer reviewed or published in an academic journal, was released on Sunday but gained traction on Wednesday when Axios reported that the Biden administration is using the data as a “wakeup call.”
Pfizer and partner BioNTech “expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days after a decision to do so, subject to regulatory approval,” according to Axios.
In a subsequent statement, the company reaffirmed the efficacy of its vaccines and stated that it was committed to developing boosters as well. “Pfizer and BioNTech have established a robust booster research program to ensure that our vaccine continues to provide the best possible level of protection. Initial data from a third dose of the current vaccine show that a booster dose administered at least 6 months after the second dose results in high neutralization titers against the wild type, Beta, and Delta variants “According to a statement issued by Pfizer/
Just last week, Moderna issued a warning that new infections were on the rise and that those who received its vaccine would most likely require a booster shot before winter. Pfizer also said late last month that a booster that was already in testing would be effective against the delta variant.
Data released earlier this week from New Jersey, where delta now accounts for 90 percent of all positive COVID samples tested, emphasizes the key points: Breakthrough infections continue to account for a very small proportion of new COVID hospitalizations, but this proportion has increased significantly in recent weeks.
According to Gov. Phil Murphy, fully vaccinated New Jerseyans accounted for 18.5 percent of all new COVID cases between July 20 and July 26. What’s more, those cases accounted for 3% of all new hospitalizations.
Murphy cited the data on Monday as proof that vaccines work, but for many, the fact that even 3% of hospitalized COVID patients were already vaccinated is cause for concern — and so is the direction in which the breakthrough cases are trending.
That 3 percent representation of immunized people hospitalized with the virus from July 20 to July 26 is significantly higher than the.004 percent representation from July 20 to July 26.
According to state data, Pfizer accounts for 30% of the more than 10.6 million vaccine doses administered in New Jersey to date, while Moderna accounts for about 21%.