As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, and with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine recently approved and now going into the arms of Americans, many Americans may be wondering – what are the differences in the vaccines? Well, we have an answer. DocWire News recently spoke with Dr. Jonathan Dattelbaum, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Richmond, to break down the differences between the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
DocWire News: Can you detail for us the dosing differences between the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
Dr. Jon Dattelbaum: Yeah, the dosing is determined solely by how the clinical trials are performed. And in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine trials, they were both two dosing regimen trials. The Pfizer vaccine is separated by 21 days of dosing and the Modena 28 days of dosing. And in both cases, the first dose does provide an immune response. And the second one provides a booster to that immune response, to hopefully really promote long-term immunity. And then the J&J, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial, they looked at the effectiveness of a single shot at their vaccine, and it proved to be effective. This has a lot of logistical advantages as well, but I want to make the point that all three vaccines were proven to be effective against COVID-19. And all of them in particular showed reduction in serious illness that could lead to hospitalization or death.
DocWire News: Is there any difference in storage temperature between these vaccines?
Dr. Jon Dattelbaum: There is, the storage temperature is interesting. As part of the application to FDA, every company has to provide stability data. That’s going to be used to determine how their vaccine is shipped and stored. And in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, they have to ship in store at ultra cold temperatures, at freezing temperatures, way colder than you would have in a home freezer. Whereas the Modena and Johnson & Johnson (vaccines) can be shipped and stored at freezing temperatures that are similar to what you would find in your home freezer. In terms of refrigeration, they’re all different. They’re all over the place. The Pfizer vaccine can only be stored for up to five days in the fridge before it needs to be used. The Moderna vaccine is a little bit longer at up to 30 days, about a month in the refrigerator. And then the longest one is the J & J could be stored in the fridge, the J & J vaccine can be stored in the fridge for up to three months.
DocWire News: Do you believe the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will eventually require a booster shot to augment immunity?
Dr. Jon Dattelbaum: Yeah. Interesting question. The FDA authorized the J & J vaccine as a single shot for use during the pandemic, but it could be that two shots do produce some extended durability and J & J has already started a new clinical trial to look at that very question and is dosing patients with the two of their vaccines that are separated by a 57 day interval, which is a bit longer than the Pfizer or Moderna ones. And so we won’t know if there’s any advantage until the trial data come out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if two doses do show some advantage because many of the vaccines that are approved for use in the US are two dose regiments, think of chickenpox, and MMR vaccines are all multiple, at least two doses. And so it wouldn’t surprise me if that was true for the J & J vaccine as well.
DocWire News: What would you say to an American who might be on the fence about getting vaccinated against COVID?
Dr. Jon Dattelbaum: I’d say that as Americans we’ve always come together in times of a health crisis like this. It can really contagious diseases like polio and smallpox. The only way that we were able to bring those under control was through a real mass vaccination effort. And so now we have three vaccines, all the data from the clinical trials, plus 50 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine up to this point, have all demonstrated that the benefits of getting vaccinated are much greater than the risks of not getting vaccinated. So I would say you want to be part of the solution and join the vaccination effort because only that way will we get the country back to where we need to be.
DocWire News: Any closing thoughts/remarks?
Dr. Jon Dattelbaum: Yeah. I’m really optimistic about where we are, even though it’s been a long haul through this pandemic, but I’m really optimistic as Americans if we’re going to have broad access to three vaccines against Coronavirus that work here in the next several months. And if we want to reignite our economy fully open our schools and get the US back to its potential, it’s going to require a mass vaccination effort that provides the equitable distribution of the vaccine to communities all across the US.