Covid-19 vaccines direct comparison: mRNA vaccines the best

A so-called head-to-head comparison of four Covid-19 vaccines shows that Pfizer and Moderna shots are likely to perform best. This is apparent from a pre-printed, not yet peer-reviewed study by Zeli Zhang et al., which can be found on, to which Nature also pays attention.

The study compared four vaccines: the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, the viral vector vaccine from Johnson & Johnson and the protein vaccine from Novavax. Important to put into perspective: the research group was not large. The effects of the Novavax shot were determined in only 12 people, the effects of the other three vaccines in 30 volunteers each. And boosters were not included in the study.

The results: The amount of antibodies invariably decreased significantly over the course of six months after two doses of either mRNA vaccine. While the antibody level after a shot with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remained stable or even increased slightly over time, it remained lower than that after vaccination with one of the mRNA vaccines. Two shots with the Novavax vaccine induced antibody responses similar to those after two shots with mRNA vaccines. Only, the levels of CD8+ T cells, which destroy infected cells, were low to even undetectable, while the other three vaccines performed well on this point.

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