Why efficacy rate doesn’t make one Covid-19 vaccine better than another

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

Between owning a house or a small studio, which one would you prefer if both cost the same? Most people would choose the house. After all, it’s in human nature to always want the best of something. Now, people want the best Covid-19 vaccine available. based on its efficacy rate. But does comparing the efficacy rate of different vaccines make any sense in the first place? Here’s what experts had to say on this topic.

The Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines are currently the only ones that have been approved for emergency use by the FDA. With that being said, many have said they’re hesitant to get the Johnson and Johnson shot, since its efficacy against mild to moderate COVID-19 was 72% in the U.S., compared to the 95% efficacy Pfizer and Moderna boast.

Scientifically speaking, is it fair to compare the efficacy rates of the different COVID-19 vaccines?


The short answer is no. In times of short supply, not only is it impractical to skip on an approved COVID-19 vaccine just because its efficacy wasn’t as high as another vaccine, doctors say it is also misguided.

“It’s not comparing apples to apples as you look at the data,” said Dr. Jerome Williams, Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement for Novant Health.

According to experts, the only way to fairly compare vaccines’ efficacy results head-to-head is to compare the vaccines head-to-head in a clinical trial.

“The only way that you can effectively compare to two different medications or two different vaccines is if you have a randomized controlled trial where some people are getting one vaccine and some people are getting the other,” Dr. Meg Sullivan, Mecklenburg County Public Health’s Medical Director, said. “That didn’t happen here.”

In fact, doctors say the conditions of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson trials were vastly different.

“They were tested in different points in time. They were tested in different populations of people when there were different strains circulating in those different populations of people,” Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, said.


To be clear: Doctors consider all three available vaccines to have high efficacy and to be safe and say, from a practical standpoint, people should get whatever shot is available to them first.

Why you can’t compare Covid-19 vaccines

Why you can't compare Covid-19 vaccines