Few Differences in Moderna Security Profiles


BOSTON – Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have a low risk of adverse events over a 38-week period, according to a study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine by a team of researchers from the VA Boston Healthcare System, the CAUSALab at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“For people considering getting vaccinated, I would strongly recommend either vaccine, depending on which vaccine is available first,” said corresponding author Dr. Arin Madenci, Harvard Chan Visiting Scholar. School. “Adverse events were rare after both vaccines, especially when compared to the health risks caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that both vaccines are very effective for prevent.”

The study compared the head-to-head safety of the two vaccines, based on adverse events experienced by 433,672 veterans in the VA’s national healthcare databases. The median age of the cohort was 69, 93% were male and 20% were black.

A wide range of potential adverse events were assessed, and 38-week risks were generally low after receiving either vaccine. Veterans receiving the Moderna vaccine were slightly less likely — a difference of less than two-tenths of one percent — to experience stroke, myocardial injury, other thromboembolic events or kidney injury.

“While small for any individual person,” Madenci noted, “these differences may help inform future population-level vaccination efforts.”

The study follows previous research, which found both vaccines to be highly effective in preventing breakthrough infections and severe COVID-19, and Moderna to be slightly more so.

“The richness of VA’s large database of electronic health records combined with expertise in phenomic data science enabled us to conduct this important analysis,” said Dr. Kelly Cho, co-investigator and director of the Data Science and Analytics for the VA Epidemiology Cooperative Studies program. Center at VA Boston HCS. “This is a great example of our partnership with Harvard Chan School through the VA-CAUSAL program, which is funded by the VA Office of Research and Development.”

The paper is available at JAMA internal medicine at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2793236

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