Effectiveness of Some COVID-19 Vaccines Has Dropped Significantly: Study

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 12, 2021 Updated: August 12, 2021

The effectiveness of the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines in the United States has dropped significantly in July, a new study found.

The shots from Moderna and Pfizer were highly effective in preventing transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, between January and June, researchers with the Mayo Clinic and the Massachusetts-based data analytics company nference discovered.

But the efficacy of Moderna’s jab dropped to 76 percent in July, with Pfizer’s plummeting to 42 percent, the researchers said.

The scientists studied health records from the Mayo Clinic to determine the effectiveness in an observational study that was recently published online (pdf), but hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed.

At the same time the drop in effectiveness was seen, the Delta variant of the CCP virus became much more prevalent in Minnesota, researchers noted, comprising more than 70 percent of the state’s cases.

Meanwhile, the researchers also found that the vaccines remained highly effective against hospitalization.

“Our observational study suggests that while both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines strongly protect against infection and severe disease, there are differences in their real-world effectiveness relative to each other and relative to prior months of the pandemic. Larger studies with more diverse populations are warranted to guide critical pending public and global health decisions, such as the optimal timing for booster doses and which vaccines should be administered to individuals who have not yet received one dose,” they wrote.

Pfizer told The Epoch Times in an email that the company and its partner, BioNTech, “are driven by science to discover the best approaches to protect against COVID-19 and are confident in the protection and safety of the two-dose BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine.”

Moderna didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Their vaccines are the most widely administered in the United States. Only one other—from Johnson & Johnson—is authorized for emergency use in the country.

When drug regulators authorized the shots in December 2020, they said clinical trial data showed Pfizer displayed 95 percent effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, and Moderna showed 94.1 percent effectiveness.

The companies recently reported waning efficacy, with Moderna’s dropping to 93 percent effectiveness after six months and Pfizer’s declining to 84 percent efficacy.

But other recent studies suggest the possibility of a much lower efficacy, particularly for Pfizer’s jab.

A study from Qatar, for instance, found Pfizer’s effectiveness just 53.5 percent, while researchers in Israel concluded (pdf) it was just 39 percent effective against infection.

The effectiveness was higher in other research, including a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found Pfizer’s shot was 88 percent effective against the Delta variant.

The recent studies taken together point to an estimate of 50 to 60 percent effectiveness in mRNA vaccines against symptomatic infection, according to Eric Topol, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

“There needs to be truth-telling about the reduced protection of mRNA vaccines vs symptomatic Delta infections,” he wrote on Twitter. “Why is this important? Because we need to protect the protected, the fully vaccinated. Sure we want to get more people vaccinated, but truth engenders trust. And truth helps guide people to be safe, use masks, distance, ventilation and all the other tools we have and know helps.”

Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at the University of California–San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, said that so-called breakthrough infections, or infections among the vaccinated, are believed to stem from either the reduced incubation period of the Delta variant, which causes higher viral loads, or waning antibody titers.

“Since T-cells protect us against severe disease, and they do not wane over time, protection from severe disease can be maintained even as nasal antibodies (and protection from mild breakthroughs) wane,” she told The Epoch Times in an email.

The takeaway from the Mayo Clinic research is that vaccines “remain remarkably effective in protecting us against severe disease but the differences seen in mild breakthrough infections with Moderna and Pfizer are likely real and likely reflect a higher antibody response (which protects you against mild infection) with the Moderna vaccine,” she added.

The waning effectiveness in vaccines is prompting U.S. officials to consider recommending that certain populations get a booster shot.

The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly set to soon authorize extra COVID-19 vaccine doses, ahead of an Aug. 13 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meeting that will discuss whether the boosters are required.

The panel weighed last month whether to recommend boosters, but ultimately decided at the time against making a recommendation.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.