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Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine protection declines over time

Published on 16/09/21 at 10:43am

Data presented by Pfizer and Moderna ahead of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee meeting on Friday suggest that protection from their respective COVID-19 vaccines wanes over time. This comes as the FDA consider the approval of a booster programme in the US.

Moderna shared new data about its vaccine on Wednesday. In addition to the jab being highly effective against new strains, the company released data from their Phase III COVE study suggesting that a booster dose of the vaccine will support greater efficacy for the population.

Read: Pfizer and AstraZeneca approved as booster COVID vaccines

Read: Fourth contaminated Moderna vial found in Japan

“It is promising to see clinical and real-world evidence adding to the growing body of data on the effectiveness of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

“The increased risk of breakthrough infections in COVE study participants who were vaccinated last year compared to more recently illustrates the impact of waning immunity and supports the need for a booster to maintain high levels of protection.”

Data released by Pfizer and BioNTech on the same day mention that the efficacy of its vaccine does reduce over time, but this is natural, as opposed to a consequence of new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The data suggest that protection from COVID-19 declines around half a year following the second dose, and this was supported by a 6% efficacy drop every two months after full vaccination.  

This comes as the US deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases, brought about by the prominence of the Delta variant. The potential benefits of a booster programme for the mRNA vaccine, Comirnaty, are to be discussed by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in a virtual meeting on Friday. It will be livestreamed on the agency’s YouTube channel and its own website.

Peter Marks, MD, PhD, Director of Center for Biologics Research and Evaluation, said prior to the event: “A transparent, thorough and objective review of the data by the FDA is critical so that the medical community and the public continue to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA will review the supplemental application as expeditiously as possible, while still doing so in a thorough and science-based manner.”

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