Is a vaccine stronger against the Delta variant? – NBC Chicago


With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which one offers better protection against the burgeoning delta variant have increased.

Several studies have been carried out to determine the effectiveness of vaccines, but is one vaccine really better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the United States each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine:

How effective are COVID vaccines against the delta variant?

The effectiveness of the vaccine has been a main question as the delta variant continues to spread across the country.

Health experts said the majority of hospitalizations and deaths associated with the variant in recent months were almost entirely unvaccinated. The CDC said the risk of infection is 8 times higher in unvaccinated than in vaccinated, and the risk of hospitalization or death is 25 times higher.

But is one better than the other at protecting against breakthrough infections in vaccinated populations?

Belgian researchers directly compared the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines by testing the antibodies of 2,500 health workers after two doses of the two vaccines.

The study found that the Moderna vaccine produced more than double the antibodies compared to Pfizer, but doctors urged caution.

“The level of the antibody itself is interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a significant difference in how the vaccine works,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Chicago tracks breakthrough vaccine infections, but Arwady said they haven’t found a substantial pattern.

“We saw the most breakthrough infections in Chicagoans who got Pfizer, but it’s because the most Chicagoans got Pfizer, not that we saw a major difference in someone who got Pfizer. got Pfizer against Moderna, ”Arwady said. .

When NBC 5 asked the Illinois Department of Public Health for a decisive breakdown, spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said that “all three vaccines were reported in groundbreaking hospitalizations and deaths. Like the CDC, the IDPH does not currently report this outage. “

Another study to consider when comparing vaccines is that of the Mayo Clinic earlier this month, which is awaiting full review.

This study found that he was at risk of suffering from revolutionary infection with COVID-19 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 reported that in July in Florida, where COVID cases are at an all time high and the the delta variant is widespread, the risk of a breakthrough was 60% lower for Moderna beneficiaries compared to Pfizer beneficiaries.

Likewise, in Minnesota last month, the authors found that the Moderna vaccine (also known as mRNA-1273) was 76% effective in preventing infection, but the Pfizer vaccine (known as BNT162b2) was 42% effective.

The study’s authors found that both vaccines “strongly protect” against serious illness; the difference seems to be more about whether people get infected in the first place. The so-called pre-printed study, which has not been peer reviewed or published in an academic journal, was first published earlier this month.

While Moderna’s two-dose vaccine remains “durable” six months after the second shot, immunity to the coronavirus will continue to wane and eventually decrease the vaccine’s effectiveness, the company said in slides accompanying its report on second quarter results.

The company said its vaccine was 93% effective six months after the second dose. By comparison, Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine’s effectiveness dropped to around 84% after six months.

Johnson & Johnson reported last month that data showed their vaccine “generated strong and persistent activity against the rapidly spreading delta variant and other widespread SARS-CoV-2 viral variants.”

“Current data for the eight months studied so far shows that the Johnson & Johnson single-injection COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not falter; instead, we are seeing improvement over time,” he said. said Dr Mathai Mammen, Global Manager. of Janssen Research & Development for Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement. “In addition, we observe a persistent and particularly robust and long-lasting cellular immune response. “

Delta, the dominant form of the disease in the United States, is more transmissible than the common cold, the 1918 Spanish flu, smallpox, Ebola, MERS and SARS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Will a reminder be necessary?

U.S. health officials are now recommending an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans eight months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

In a joint statement, the directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health and other leading medical experts, presented plans to start giving booster shots later on. next month.

The comprehensive plan awaits a Food and Drug Administration assessment of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose, officials said.

Those who were fully immunized the earliest, which includes healthcare workers, nursing home residents and other seniors, will be the first to receive a booster before they are available to the general public. .

U.S. regulators have already authorized an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people with weakened immune systems earlier this month. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group also recommended the extra blow for these people.

The announcement applies to several million Americans who are particularly vulnerable due to organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders and who have received Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines.

According to the CDC, the list includes people who have:

  • You have received active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Has received an organ transplant and is taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • You have had a stem cell transplant within the past 2 years or are taking medicines to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immune deficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high dose corticosteroids or other medicines which may suppress your immune response

The agency notes that “people should talk to their health care provider about their condition and whether an extra dose is right for them.”

People who received the Johnson & Johnson single-injection vaccine will also likely need a booster, but more information is needed because the United States did not start administering it until March 2021, said officials.

Health officials expect to receive more data “in the coming weeks” and “will also keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster injections.”

The FDA and CDC approval and recommendation for immunocompromised people do not apply to those who have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

With the booster shots set to begin, NBC 5 asked Dr Richard Novak, head of the infectious disease division at the University of Illinois Health, if Pfizer patients should line up first.

“Based on the limited information we have, giving the recalls and targeting high-risk groups first makes sense. Whether or not people who have had Pfizer vs. Moderna need to worry more, we just don’t have enough information to tell yet, ”Novak said.

The first guidelines remain unchanged, and the CDC recommends that you take a full cycle of the same vaccine and not mix coronavirus vaccines.

What about the side effects of booster injections?

The CDC said the side effects from the third shot “were similar to the two-dose series.”

The most common symptoms are fatigue and pain at the injection site, but “most of the symptoms were mild to moderate.”

As with previous doses of the vaccine, the CDC notes that “serious side effects are rare, but can occur.”

Are COVID vaccines approved by the FDA?

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted Pfizer and BioNTech full U.S. approval for their COVID-19 vaccine – becoming the first in the United States to earn the coveted designation.

So far, Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine has been on the US market under emergency use clearance, which was granted by the FDA in December.

Companies have submitted a biologics license application to the FDA May 7 for patients 16 years of age and over. This request was approved on Monday.

The vaccine is also still available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for young people between the ages of 12 and 15 and for a third booster dose in those with weakened immune systems, the FDA said.

While Pfizer is currently the only vaccine to be fully approved, it is also the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in adolescents aged 12 to 17, although Moderna requested such approval earlier this year.

Emergency Use Authorization allows a vaccine to become available before full approval in a public health emergency. The FDA can revoke the EUA at any time.

Moderna’s two-shot and Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccines also continue to be available under emergency use authorization.

Moderna also announced in June that it had started a “continuous submission” to the FDA of data from its two-dose mRNA vaccine studies.

“We are pleased to announce this important step in the US regulatory process for a Biologics License Application (BLA) for our COVID-19 vaccine,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a press release to the time. “We look forward to working with the FDA and will continue to submit data from our Phase 3 study and complete ongoing submission. “

Large-scale studies of the shots continued after Moderna’s emergency clearance. The FDA will review the information to see if the vaccine meets strict criteria for full approval.

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