CDC: Moderna COVID vaccine most protective against hospital cases

COVID vaccinator with vial and syringe
COVID vaccinator with vial and syringe

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr cc

All three COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the United States offer significant protection against hospitalization for COVID-19, but Moderna is the most effective among US adults who are not immunocompromised, according to new data published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the data as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers booster doses of the Pfizer vaccines for those who are past 6 months of vaccination.

In a study involving a case-control analysis of 3,689 adults who were hospitalized at 21 US hospitals at some point from Mar 11 through Aug 15, the vaccine effectiveness (VE) against COVID-19 hospitalizations was 93% for Moderna, 88% for Pfizer/BioNTech, and 71% for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

"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 authors wrote.

One hundred healthy study participants also provided serum samples for a postvaccination antibody analysis, with blood collected 2 to 6 weeks after receipt of the second Moderna and Pfizer vaccine dose or the single J&J vaccine dose.

Again, recipients of the Moderna vaccine, followed by Pfizer then J&J had higher anti-spike Immunoglobulin G levels, a sign of a stronger antibody response.

180 million Americans fully vaccinated

Today during a White House briefing, Jeff Zients, the COVID-19 repose coordinator, said 180 million Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of yesterday.

"That's up from 2 million Americans fully vaccinated on the day President Biden took office," Zients said.

Zients also offered several real-world examples of how vaccine requirements were positively influencing vaccine uptake: He said that, in the past 6 weeks, United Airlines went from 59% of employees vaccinated to 90%. Kaiser Permanente reported similar increases since announcing its vaccine mandate.

But legal pressure against vaccine requirements is mounting. Attorney generals from 26 states sent a letter to Biden yesterday saying the administration's vaccine requirement for federal workers and private businesses is "disastrous and counterproductive," and that they will seek every legal option to oppose it.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said the 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases is 146,000 per day, and the 7-day average hospitalization is 11,165 per day. The average number of daily deaths increased this past week, to more than 1,400 per day.

Yesterday the country tracked 150,366 COVID-19 cases, including 1,969 deaths, according to the New York Times.

Walensky also said the Biden administration was making a $2.1 billion investment from the American Rescue Plan to expand public health across the country.

The money will fund state-based nursing home and long-term care strike teams, which will work quickly to identify COVID-19 outbreaks. Labs, antibiotic stewardship programs, and state health departments will also get a significant infusion of money.

Global COVID headlines

  • As global leaders take part in the United Nations General Assembly in New York City in the upcoming week, the World Health Organization (WHO) today urged them to guarantee fair access to COVID-19 vaccine and take steps to better prepare against future pandemic threats. In a statement, it emphasized that vaccines are the most critical tool for ending the pandemic, but high-income countries have administered 61 times more doses than lower-income countries. "The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and evolving, and the longer the social and economic disruption will continue," the WHO said.

  • In further analysis of reports of rare blood clots after AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccination, regulators from the European Medicines Agency maintained their April findings of no specific risk factors that make the events more likely, adding that there is no evidence that delaying the second dose has any effect on blood clot risk.

  • British researchers are launching studies of mixed vaccine schedules in children, part of an attempt to clarify uncertainty surrounding sporadic reports of myocarditis following vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, according to Reuters.

  • The global COVID-19 total today topped 227 million cases, rising to 227,335,684 illnesses, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. So far, 4,674,673 people across the world have died from their infections.

CIDRAP News Editor Lisa Schnirring contributed to this article.

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