Which COVID Vaccine Boosters Work Best?

A study of COVID vaccine boosters suggests Moderna or Pfizer works best

Heard on All Things Considered – If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as your first COVID-19 shot, a booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine apparently could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J’s vaccine.

That’s the finding of a highly anticipated study released Wednesday.

And if you started out with either Pfizer or Moderna, it probably doesn’t matter that much, the research suggests, as long as you get one of the two mRNA vaccines as a booster.

The study, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, involved 458 volunteers. They were divided into nine groups with roughly 50 volunteers in each group.

Those who initially got the two-dose Moderna vaccine got either another Moderna shot, a Pfizer shot or a Johnson & Johnson shot as a booster four to six months after their primary immunization.

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People who got the two-dose Pfizer vaccine got either another Pfizer shot or a Moderna or J&J booster. And people who got the one-shot J&J vaccine either got another J&J shot or a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

The researchers then measured antibody levels in all of those people two weeks and four weeks after the boost. The results were very interesting.

People who got the Moderna vaccine for their original shots and Moderna again for their booster appear to have gotten the best immune response.

This was followed by those who got Pfizer boosted by Moderna and then Moderna boosted by Pfizer — although the increase in immune response with the mRNA vaccines was probably too small to really make a difference in protection in most groups.

The most significant finding suggested that people who initially got the J&J vaccine seem to have gotten the best response if they got Pfizer or Moderna as their booster.

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In an email to NPR, Nathaniel Landau, a microbiologist at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, said the findings show that getting a J&J boost after the initial one-shot immunization is “not as good” as receiving one of the other vaccines as a booster READ MORE. 


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