How do the three COVID-19 vaccines compare?

Posted at 3:36 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 10:26:49-05

When going to get vaccinated, you can’t choose which brand of vaccine you are given, and some might worry if one dose is better than the other.

With the three vaccines available, which one should you take if you choose to get vaccinated? According to Boise State University Professor of Biochemistry Ken Cornell, take whichever you can when eligible.

“I would say if people had a choice of one vaccine or another, I would say take whichever one is available at the time,” Cornell said.

The Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines are both mRNA vaccines.

“They just have messenger RNA, and they are not infectious in and of themselves,” Cornell said. “That mRNA is your cells coding sequence, or the virus coding sequence, for proteins that make up a virus."

Cornell said the coding sequence is taken up by immune system cells and other proteins the virus would typically make.

“Those get presented to the immune system and you develop an antibody response,” Cornell said.

Cornell also said both are a new generation of vaccines and the advantage to them is the RNA used in these vaccines can be synthesized chemically in machines which can make for a rapid turnaround if changes to the vaccine are necessary.

“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is also newer generation. What they’ve done is taken another virus, an Adenoviruses, and they have engineered it to make the spike proteins, which is a protein we have to develop an antibody to in response to block the COVID-19 from infecting cells,” Cornell said.

While some might be concerned with the effectiveness of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which has a 66% efficacy rate preventing moderate to severe disease, it is still a good protectant against the virus.

“It is still actually more effective than our typical influenza vaccine every year,” Cornell said. “There's a big advantage to any of these vaccines that even if you get infected afterward, but you’ve been vaccinated, you will have a milder disease.”

The state's COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee will meet Friday at noon to discuss the current eligible groups and the next possible groups for the vaccine. You can tune into the meeting here.