Local experts explain: Which vaccine to take based on efficacy?


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Johnson&Johnson vaccine is showing 66% efficacy as opposed to Pfizer and Moderna showing around 95%, but this doesn’t mean they will not protect you the same.

Dr. Armando Meza, infectious disease specialist at  Texas Tech University Health and Sciences Center, said efficacy is not exactly the same as effectiveness.

Efficacy is the number you see reported in the studies,” explained Dr. Meza.

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, researcher and professor of Public Health at New Mexico State University said, the study is conducted on thousands of people who are randomly selected and divided into two groups.

“One group gets the vaccine and the other one gets the placebo, then they compare several months in time and find out who was infected and who was not,” said Dr. Khubchandani.

This study provides the percentage of efficacy, but it also gives scientists an insight into how severe the illness is for those who got the vaccine as opposed to those who didn’t.

Effectiveness, on the other hand, is how well the vaccine works once it is distributed in the real world, said Dr. Meza.

“There may be patients who benefit 100% from a vaccine even though it is 66%,” he explained.

Dr. Meza recognized Johnson&Johnson is just as effective in preventing severe illness like the other vaccines, which, he says, is the first goal of the vaccination efforts – to lower hospitalizations and deaths.

He named the second goal of the vaccine is preventing the spread of the virus which we can measure only once the vaccines are distributed to more people. That’s when we will see the real world effectiveness.

“These vaccines are so similar in the way that they’re produced that there shouldn’t be any real significance in the way they work to protect you,” said Dr. Meza.

Johnson&Johnson vaccine also requires you to be administered only one dose, as opposed to Pfizer and Moderna that require two.

Dr. Meza explained this only reflects the amount of vaccine that is needed to produce the same amount of protection.

If the vaccine “uses a better way to get inside of the cells that you are going to stimulate to produce the protection the amount you will need will be less,” he explained.

He said the new one-dose vaccine will also help speed up the vaccination process and provide more available vaccines.

“We are in the race with time for vaccinating all individuals,” he said adding, “with millions of doses ready plus this company, we should have access to vaccine for the rest of the population, which to me is the most important thing.”

Dr. Meza and Dr. Khubchandani both advised to take any vaccination available to you, as it will offer protection against severe illness just as efficiently.

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