This Vaccine Is Most Likely to Keep You Out of the Hospital, CDC Study Says
New research says this COVID vaccine is the most effective in preventing hospitalizations.
Like any vaccine, your COVID shots are not guaranteed to prevent you from getting sick 100 percent of the time, but they are certainly going to help your odds. As the more transmissible Delta variant continues to circulate and the months pass after many people's last dose, there's concern about breakthrough cases of COVID among the fully vaccinated. But what the vaccine is even more likely to protect against than infection is a severe case of COVID or hospitalization as a result of the virus. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that unvaccinated individuals are more than 10 times likelier to be hospitalized for COVID than those who are fully vaccinated. Though vaccinated individuals overall typically only experience mild infections in the rare instances when they do catch COVID, new research has found that you may be even less likely to be hospitalized if you're fully vaccinated, depending on which vaccine you received.
The CDC recently compared the effectiveness of Moderna's, Pfizer's, and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines in preventing hospitalizations among adults without immunocompromising conditions, and published their findings in a Sept. 17 study. The researchers conducted a case-control analysis among 3,689 adults who were admitted to 21 U.S. hospitals across 18 states from March 11 to Aug. 15 of this year. They then compared antibody levels of these patients to those of 100 healthy volunteers, measured two to six weeks after being fully vaccinated with either of the three COVID vaccines approved for use in the U.S.
According to the study, Moderna was the most likely to prevent COVID hospitalization, with an effectiveness of 93 percent. The effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were slightly lower, at 88 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
The CDC researchers also found the effectiveness of Pfizer's vaccine significantly dropped four months after the second dose, while Moderna's did not. After this time period, Pfizer's went from being 91 percent effective to 77 percent, while the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine only dropped from 93 percent to 92 percent. According to the study, this contributed to Pfizer's slightly lower protection against hospitalization.
"Differences in [vaccine effectiveness] between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine might be due to higher mRNA content in the Moderna vaccine, differences in timing between doses (three weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech versus four weeks for Moderna), or possible differences between groups that received each vaccine that were not accounted for in the analysis," the CDC notes.
This is not the first recent CDC-led study that has highlighted the higher protection that Moderna's vaccine may offer, however. On Sept. 10, the agency released a study of 32,000 medical encounters at 187 hospitals and 221 emergency departments and urgent care clinics across nine states from June to Aug. 2021, when the Delta variant became the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.
According to that study, the Moderna vaccine also protected participants more against severe COVID in all medical encounters; it was 95 percent effective against hospitalizations and 92 percent effective against emergency department and urgent care visits. Pfizer was 80 percent effective against hospitalizations and 77 percent effective against emergency room and urgent care visits, while Johnson & Johnson's effectiveness levels were 60 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
Still, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend any of the three available vaccines without preference, noting that all provide high levels of protectiveness against COVID-19. "Although these real-world data suggest some variation in levels of protection by vaccine, all FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide substantial protection against COVID-19 hospitalization," the CDC stated in its Sept. 17 study.