In the joined States, the extremely transmissible Delta variant is driving an uptick in COVID-19 cases, primarily among the unvaccinated. However the an excellent news is, together the weeks pass, more reports have actually been coming out about the performance of the vaccines that room in use and the potential that those quiet in development. So, just how do they differ?

It’s essential to store up, but it’s likewise a challenging task, offered the overwhelming of info (and misinformation) coming at us from so plenty of directions.

Vaccines indigenous Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and also Johnson & Johnson space being administered in the U.S. Best now, and others space on monitor to perform the same. The FDA has authorized—and the CDC has actually approved—booster shots because that all three vaccines, together with a “mix-and-match” approach that would enable people to select a various vaccine for your booster than the one they began with.

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We mapped out a compare of the most influential COVID-19 vaccines.

The three vaccines in usage in the U.S.



Pfizer-BioNTech was the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive complete Food and also Drug administration (FDA) approval for civilization ages 16 and also older in august 2021. That was also the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive FDA Emergency use Authorization (EUA) back in December 2020, ~ the company reported that is vaccine was highly reliable at preventing symptomatic disease. This is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which offers a relatively new technology. It need to be stored in freezer-level temperatures, which deserve to make it more an overwhelming to distribute than some various other vaccines.

Status: Approved because that adults eras 16 and also older in the U.S., v EUA for eras 12-15, and also for specified period groups in other countries, consisting of in the europe Union (under the name Comirnaty). Pfizer-BioNTech is awaiting last approval of an EUA for children ages 5-11. The CDC proposal a booster sheep of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for human being 65 and up, occupants of long-term care settings, and people 18 come 64 v underlying medical conditions or whose work might put castle at higher risk that exposure to COVID-19. The latter team may include health care workers, teachers, and also others. Human being with specific immunocompromising conditions can obtain a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines therefore they have the right to reach a level of immunity they were not able to with after 2 doses. In October, the CDC issued additional interim guidelines saying the moderately and severely immunocompromised civilization who got an mRNA vaccine, and space 18 and older, might receive a booster sheep of any kind of COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their 3rd dose

Recommended for: Anyone 12 or older. 

Dosage: Two shots, 21 days apart; totally effective two weeks after 2nd shot. Single-shot booster doses have the right to be administered come those who are eligible at least six months after completion of the primary doses. Because Pfizer-BioNTech states its data shows a smaller dose produces a solid immune an answer in children, the proposed two 10-microgram doses for children ages 5-11 is smaller sized than the two 30-microgram doses given to teens and also adults.

FDA warnings: The FDA put a warning label on the Pfizer vaccine regarding a “likely association” with reported situations of love inflammation in young adults. This inflammation may occur in the love muscle (myocarditis) or in the external lining that the heart (pericarditis), and is taken into consideration important but uncommon—arising in about 12.6 instances per million second doses administered. The inflammation, in most cases, gets better on its very own without medical intervention.

How that works: Unlike vaccines that put a weakened or inactivated disease germ right into the body, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine delivers a tiny item of hereditary code from the SARS CoV-2 virus to host cells in the body, essentially giving those cell instructions, or blueprints, for making copies of spike protein (the spikes you check out sticking out of the coronavirus in photos online and on TV). The spikes execute the job-related of penetrating and infecting organize cells. This proteins wake up an immune response, producing antibodies and developing storage cells that will certainly recognize and also respond if the human body is infected v the actual virus.

How fine it works: Experts continue to learn around Pfizer’s efficacy both in the laboratory and in the actual world. Pfizer’s initial step 3 clinical data presented in December showed its vaccine to have actually 95% efficacy. In April, the agency announced the vaccine had 91.3% efficacy against COVID-19, based upon measuring exactly how well that prevented symptomatic COVID-19 infection 7 days v up to 6 months after the second dose. It also found it to be 100% efficient in avoiding severe an illness as defined by the CDC, and also 95.3% effective in staying clear of severe condition as defined by the FDA. One more study, not yet peer-reviewed, listed more brand-new data that brought the efficacy number down to 84% after ~ 6 months, although efficacy against severe disease was 97%.

In August, the CDC additionally published research studies that proved mRNA vaccine protection against infection might be waning, back the vaccines were still extremely effective versus hospitalization. In one CDC study, data native the state of brand-new York verified vaccine effectiveness dropping indigenous 91.8 to 75% against infection.

How fine it works on virus mutations: A variety of studies have concentrated on the vaccine and the mutations. In early on May, the Pfizer vaccine was discovered to be an ext than 95% effective against severe condition or death from the Alpha different (first recognize in the joined Kingdom) and also the Beta different (first determined in south Africa) in two studies based on real-world vaccinations.

As far as the Delta variant, two researches reported by Public health and wellness England that have not yet been peer reviewed confirmed that complete vaccination after 2 doses is 88% effective against symptomatic condition and 96% effective against hospitalization. But Israel later on reported the vaccine’s efficiency to be 90% effective versus severe disease, and 39% versus infection in its population in late June and also early July, based on an analysis of the country"s national wellness statistics.


Moderna’s vaccine was authorized because that emergency use in the U.S. In December 2020, about a week after the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna uses the exact same mRNA an innovation as Pfizer and also has a an in similar way high efficacy at avoiding symptomatic disease. It also needs to it is in stored in freezer-level temperatures. In mid-August, the FDA approved a third dose the the Moderna vaccine for particular immuno-compromised individuals, consisting of solid organ transplant recipients and those with problems that give them an same reduced capability to struggle infections and other diseases. 

Status: Emergency usage in the U.S because that the vaccine, and for a half-dose booster for human being 65 and older, and younger adults who have medical conditions or jobs that placed them at high risk, adhering to the exact same protocol the CDC recommends because that Pfizer vaccine recipients. World with certain immunocompromising problems can get a 3rd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines so they can reach a level of immune they were not able to with after two doses. In October, the CDC issued added interim indict saying that moderately and also severely immunocompromised civilization who obtained an mRNA vaccine, and also are 18 and also older, may receive a booster dose of any type of COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their third dose.

Recommended for: Adults 18 and also older. When the vaccine is no yet accessible for children, the company says its vaccine provides strong security for children as young as 12.

Dosage: Two shots, 28 job apart; fully effective two weeks after ~ the second dose.

FDA warnings: The FDA put a warning label on the Moderna vaccine about a “likely association” through reported cases of heart inflammation in young adults. This inflammation may occur in the love muscle (myocarditis) or in the outer lining of the love (pericarditis), and also is considered important yet uncommon—arising in around 12.6 situations per million second doses administered. The inflammation, in many cases, gets better on its very own without treatment.

How the works: Similar to the Pfizer vaccine, this is an mRNA vaccine that sends out the body’s cell instructions for making a spike protein that will certainly train the immune system to acknowledge it. The immune system will then attack the spike protein the following time that sees one (attached come the really SARS CoV-2 virus).

How well it works: Moderna’s initial step 3 clinical data in December 2020 was comparable to Pfizer’s—at that point, both vaccines showed about 95% efficacy. This figure has adjusted over time. At six months ~ vaccination, the Moderna vaccine was displayed to have efficacy that 90% versus infection and much more than 95% against developing a severe case, according to the company. In addition, while both Pfizer and also Moderna tho are taken into consideration highly effective, several current studies showed Moderna to be more protective. One study published in The new England newspaper of Medicine found Moderna vaccine to be 96.3% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in health care workers contrasted to 88.8% for Pfizer. Another, indigenous the CDC, found Moderna’s effectiveness against hospitalization hosted steady over a four-month period, if Pfizer’s dropped from 91% to 77%. This research study is still restricted and more data is required to completely understand the differences in between the 2 vaccines.

How well it works on virus mutations: Some research study has said that Moderna’s vaccine may provide protection against the Alpha and Beta variants. In June, Moderna reported that studies verified its vaccine is effective against the Beta, Delta, Eta, and also Kappa variants, although the did present it come be around two time weaker against Delta than against the initial virus.

Johnson & Johnson

The FDA granted EUA because that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in February, 70 work after Pfizer and also Moderna. Unlike the mRNA vaccines, this is a carrier, or virus vector, vaccine. It can be save in typical refrigerator temperatures, and also because that requires just a single shot, that is easier to distribute and administer. 

Status: Emergency usage in the U.S for the vaccine, and for a booster for all adults 18 and also older, which is come be offered at least two months after the early stage inoculation. CDC interim guidelines introduce moderately and severely immunocompromised human being who received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get a second dose of either an mRNA or J&J vaccine at the very least two months after their initial shot.

Recommended for: Adults 18 and older. If the vaccine is no yet accessible for children, the company says that is vaccine provides strong defense for children as young as 12.

Dosage: Single shot. Completely effective two weeks after vaccination.

Common next effects: Fatigue, fever headache, injection site pain, or myalgia (pain in a muscle or group of muscles), every one of which normally resolve within a job or two. It has had actually noticeably milder side results than the Pfizer and also Moderna vaccines, according to the FDA report exit in late February. No one endured an allergic reaction in clinical trials for the vaccine, follow to the company.

FDA warnings: The FDA has attached two warnings come the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In July, the FDA enclosed a warning after rare situations of the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome to be reported in a small number of vaccination recipients. Many of the cases developed within 42 job after vaccination.

In April, the FDA added a warning label after ending a pause on the vaccine it had recommended “out of wealth of caution” end an uncommon, yet potentially serious, blood coagulation disorder that arisen in a small number of recipients.

How that works: This is a carrier vaccine, which provides a different method than the mRNA vaccines to instruct human cells to do the SARS CoV-2 spike protein. Scientists engineer a unauthorized adenovirus (a typical virus that, when not inactivated, can cause colds, bronchitis, and also other illnesses) as a shell to bring genetic code on the spike proteins to the cells (similar to a Trojan Horse). The shell and also the password can’t make you sick, yet once the code is within the cells, the cells develop a spike protein to train the body’s immune system, which create antibodies and memory cells to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection.

How fine it works: 72% overall efficacy and 86% efficacy against moderate and severe condition in the U.S., according to analyses post by the FDA in February. In beforehand October, J&J reported in a agency press release that clinical psychological data proved that a booster shooting given around two months after the first shot enhanced protection come 94% versus moderate come severe an illness in the U.S. 

How fine it functions on virus mutations: Johnson & Johnson reported in July that its vaccine is additionally effective against the Delta variant, showing only a little drop in potency contrasted with that is efficacy against the original strain that the virus, although one recent study suggested that the J&J vaccine is less effective against Delta.

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But the first study to evaluate the vaccine versus Delta in the real civilization reported the vaccine to be 71% effective versus hospitalization and also up come 95% effective against death. The vaccine’s power was contempt lower versus the Beta different in the study. This preliminary study was report in August in ~ a news conference by the set of health in southern Africa. These studies have actually not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a clinical journal.