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UVA researchers are comparatively studying Moderna and Pfizer

A study finds the Pfizer vaccine produces fewer antibodies in older people than the Moderna...
A study finds the Pfizer vaccine produces fewer antibodies in older people than the Moderna shot does.(Source: Pfizer, CNN)
Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia’s School of Medicine uncovered new data about immune responses of the top two COVID-19 vaccines: the Pfizer and Moderna.

“So far there hasn’t been too much head-to-head analysis of the two major vaccines that are used in the U.S.,” said Dr. Jeff Wilson, UVA immunologist and allergist.

Wilson, and a team of researchers, measured the magnitude of IgG antibodies against spike proteins.

IgG is short for Immunoglobulin -- the most common kind of antibody in your blood.

When they contact other cells in the body, a person can become sick.

Dr. Costi Sifri, UVA epidemiologist encourages people to be mindful of others in close proximity, as they may have different vaccine responses.

To help better understand why and who may have a lower antibody response to a vaccine, Wilson worked on this study.

167 UVA employees gave their blood after full vaccination.

“We compared the magnitude of the responses and we were a little bit surprised, but we did see a difference,” Wilson said.

The sampling group was then split into people over and under 50 years.

“It’s when you split the cohort like that, that’s where you can really see a difference,” Wilson said. “Relatively younger folks who got the Pfizer vaccine had a response that looked pretty much like Moderna.”

The 50-and-up group had fewer igG antibodies on average after the Pfizer shot.

“It’s important to mention that many of those who are older who got Pfizer had a very good response,” said Wilson.

He says this data presents the question, is there an optimal vaccine for certain subsets of the population.

There is not enough data to support a firm answer yet.

“There’s nothing here that says one vaccine works better than another, we think it’s a really small piece of a very big puzzle,” said Dr. Wilson.

The university is still in equal support of both vaccines and encourages people to get either shot.

However, they are interested in further understanding the differences in people’s immune responses to both leading vaccines.

They are also working to establish if antibody count is a proper way to consider a vaccine effective.

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