Moderna Just Announced This Major Benefit Over Pfizer's Vaccine

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Millions of people in the U.S. have gotten an additional COVID shot to try to increase their protection against the virus still circulating across the country. Many health officials have maintained that only the most vulnerable need a booster, however, as the current vaccines are still effective at preventing severe COVID. But that doesn't mean all three vaccines were created equal. Recent research has suggested that Moderna's vaccine might be most effective at staving off severe infection, with a Sept. 24 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming that the Moderna vaccine has remained 93 percent effective against COVID hospitalization. And that's not the only reason that Moderna has an upper hand, according to new data.

On Nov. 11, Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton, MD, discussed the vaccine's effectiveness with reporters, saying that Moderna offers high protection against severe COVID, hospitalization, and death, as reported by CNBC. Burton also said data shows that Moderna's vaccine has fewer breakthrough cases than Pfizer's, referencing more research from the CDC.

According to the chief medical officer, data from the agency shows that there have been 86 breakthrough cases per 100,000 people who received the Moderna vaccine in the U.S., compared to 135 breakthrough cases per 100,000 people who got the Pfizer vaccine.

That doesn't mean there aren't also concerns. In mid-October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chose to postpone its decision on whether or not to authorize Moderna's two-dose vaccine for use in children 12 to 17 years old in order to review reports of a rare heart inflammation condition called myocarditis, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for use in those under the age of 18.

According to Burton, reported cases of myocarditis in men under 30 have been relatively higher after Moderna's vaccine compared to after Pfizer's. Burton cited data from France, which found that there were 13.3 cases of myocarditis per 100,000 males ages 12 to 29 who received Moderna, and 2.7 cases per 100,000 for those who received Pfizer.

The chief medical officer noted that the company has not seen any cases of myocarditis in anyone who has received its booster shot yet, however. The booster is a lower, half-dose of Moderna's vaccine, which might decrease the already rare risk of heart inflammation. Burton said that while scientists are still trying to understand why young men might experience myocarditis after vaccination, some have hypothesized that Moderna's higher dosage could play a part. The original vaccine is 100 micrograms, in contrast to Pfizer's 30 micrograms.

"While I think health authorities are carefully assessing the data, being appropriately cautious, you can see that they continue to recommend the use of the mRNA-1273 Moderna vaccine. We believe that the balance of benefit and risk is extremely positive," Burton said during the call with reporters, adding that his company will continue to monitor for myocarditis cases, and that most are generally mild with symptoms that usually resolve on their own.

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