Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Surprising new study finds Moderna creates more antibodies than Pfizer doses

Story at a glance

  • A study featuring more than 2,000 Belgian health care workers measured immune responses to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
  • Among all age groups, Moderna elicited higher immune cell levels.
  • Pfizer was recently granted full FDA approval and is looking to get its booster candidate cleared.

Individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Moderna option showcased higher antibody levels than those vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, according to results from a new study.

Published in to a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Monday, the research looked at a group of Belgian health care workers who received the standard two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer. 

Serological testing was conducted before vaccination and six to 10 weeks after the second dose, which took place between April 27 and May 20.

Researchers adjusted for any confounding variables — especially prior infections — among the volunteers.

Out of the 2,499 health care workers who volunteered, higher antibody titers were observed in participants vaccinated with the two doses of Moderna. This was consistent with study participants who had a prior COVID-19 infection and those who were never infected. 


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“This study demonstrated a significantly higher humoral immunogenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccine (Moderna) compared with the BNT162b2 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech), in infected as well as uninfected participants, and across age categories,” the study concluded. 

Moderna elicited about 2,881 units per milliliter (U/mL) of antibody titers among previously uninfected volunteers. By comparison, the Pfizer formula generated about 1,108 U/mL following the full two shot regimen.

Similar increases were seen among individuals who were previously infected with COVID-19.

The antibody levels seen in both vaccines saw a negative correlation with age in those who were uninfected, implying lower antibody levels for older vaccine recipients. 

Pfizer was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for formal use as opposed to emergency use. As the delta variant continues to surge and U.S. health experts recommend booster vaccines for waning immunity, Pfizer is expected to seek authorization for an additional booster dosage. 

As of last week, Moderna completed the requirements for full FDA approval. 


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