As many as 32 million people across the UK will be offered a Pfizer vaccine in a bid to boost immunity ahead of winter. Although the Pfizer vaccine has proven highly effective at preventing serious illness from the virus, experts now believe Moderna might offer better protection against its variants, notably Delta.
Two reports posted on medRxiv, showed that the Pfizer vaccine may be less effective than Moderna’s against the delta variant of COVID-19.
In a study of more than 50,000 patients, researchers found the effectiveness of Moderna vaccine against infection had dropped to from 86 percent in early 2021 to 76 percent in July, when the Delta variant was predominant.
Over the same period, the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine fell from 76 percent to 42 percent.
Researchers say that while both vaccines remain effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalisation, a booster shot of Moderna may be necessary for those who have received two Pfizer vaccines.
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A separate study conducted on residents of a nursing home in Ontario, showed stronger immune responses against worrisome variants after the Moderna vaccine than after the Pfizer jab.
Commenting on the reports, a Pfizer spokesperson said: “We continue to believe a third dose booster may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination to maintain the highest levels of protection.”
It comes as new data suggests that people who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine five or more months ago are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those vaccinated less than five months ago.
Researchers in Israel studied nearly 34,000 vaccinated adults who were tested for COVID-19.
Overall, 1.8 percent tested positive, with the odds of testing positive higher for those who had received their jabs at least 146 days earlier.
Among patients older than 60, the odds of a positive test were almost three times higher when no less than 146 days had passed since their second dose.
Doctor Eugene Merzone, of Leumit Health Services and coauthor of the study, said: “Very few patients had required hospitalisation, and it is too early to assess the severity of these new infections in terms of hospital admissions, need for mechanical ventilation or mortality. We are planning to continue our research.”
Furthermore, figures show vaccine hesitancy has almost halved among 18- to 21-years-old in Great Britain, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Increasing numbers of 16- and 17-year-old are also more willing to have the jab, as hesitancy has decreased from 14 percent to 11 percent.
Among those aged 18- to 21, hesitancy fell to five percent from nine percent, and dropped only slightly for 22- to 25-year olds, from 10 percent to 9 percent.
The first otherwise healthy 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK received their COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, following the recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to extend the programme (JCVI).
The extension of the rollout means 1.4 million 16- and 17-year-olds are now eligible to get a first dose.
Prior to the JCVI’s decision, some under 18s had been eligible for a jab if they had certain health conditions, were living with someone who was vulnerable, or were approaching their 18th birthday.
According to Department of Health statistics, a total of 86,780,455 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far.
Boris Johnson paid tribute to the vaccine rollout, saying it has provided vital protection to people across the country.
He said: “It’s so important that those who haven’t been vaccinated come forward as soon as possible to book their jab – to protect themselves, protect their loved ones and allow us all to enjoy our freedoms safely.”