TUCSON, Ariz. — The risk of a COVID breakthrough of the Delta variant may be much lower with the Moderna vaccine than the Pfizer drug. That's according to a new clinical study from the Mayo Clinic.
"I looked at those numbers and it was encouraging that it looks to be the best," said Dr. Jack McGettigan. He runs the Tucson portion of Moderna's COVID vaccine nationwide clinical trial.
The Mayo Clinic study shows last month in Florida the risk of a breakthrough case was 60% lower for Moderna recipients compared to Pfizer recipients.
The study also shows last month in Minnesota the Moderna vaccine was 76% effective at preventing infection, but the Pfizer vaccine was just 42% effective.
The study still needs to be peer reviewed. Here in Tucson there's even more positive data about the Moderna vaccine from Dr. McGettigan's trial.
"We've had five people in the study with us that have actually come down with COVID. But the good news basically what we're hearing is that none of them have been hospitalized," said Dr. McGettigan. "None of them have really been sick, they've been a little bit ill. So, they come in, we check them, and five have been positive of the people who have been vaccinated. That's out of 800 plus now."
I'm a volunteer in the Moderna clinical trial at Quality of Life & Medical Research Centers near Tucson Medical Center. I received the second of two doses back on September 1, 2020. I'll soon have my blood checked again for antibodies to the virus. That will likely help Moderna develop a possible booster shot in the future.
"I get a sense that that's what where we're headed," Dr. McGettigan said. "Just because it makes the most sense to me going forward. We need to keep developing for these new strains."
Dr. McGettigan is quick to thank the volunteers in the study refusing to take credit for helping save lives with the development of the vaccine.
"Tucson stepped up, best in the nation," Dr. McGettigan said. "Tucson needs a big pat on the back."
The authors of the Mayo Clinic study suggest Moderna's higher effectiveness is likely due to its vaccine providing 3x more MRNA copies of the spike protein than Pfizer's.