Dr. del Rio on Selecting Between Available Vaccines for COVID-19

February 25, 2021
Carlos del Rio, MD

Carlos del Rio, MD, discusses factors to consider when selecting between available vaccines for COVID-19.

Carlos del Rio, MD, executive associate dean, Emory School of Medicine and Grady Health System, distinguished professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Emory University School of Medicine, professor, Hubert Department of Global Health-Rollins School of Public Health, co-director, Emory Center for AIDS Research, co-primary investigator, Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit and the Emory Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, Emory Vaccine Center, discusses factors to consider when selecting between available vaccines for COVID-19.

On December 11, 2020, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer’s BNT162b2 as the first vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals aged 16 years and older. On December 18, 2020, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was granted the same designation for use in patients aged 18 years and older. Although no head-to-head comparative data exist, the vaccines appear to be similar in terms of efficacy and both are valid options, says del Rio.

Additionally, another vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is poised for FDA review, says del Rio. Although the efficacy appears similar to the other approved vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilizes an adenovirus-based approach, whereas the others use mRNA technology, del Rio explains. Moreover, although all 3 options appear efficacious in terms of preventing severe COVID-19, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to be less effective at preventing mild to moderate COVID-19, del Rio says.

As such, immunocompromised individuals, such as patients with cancer, may have better outcomes with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and healthy individuals may opt for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should it receive Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, concludes del Rio.


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