April 16, 2021

What are the differences between Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?

Vials with vaccines for the coronavirus.

Vials with vaccines for the coronavirus.

Pharmaceutical regulators in USA they authorized last week the vaccine against vaccinecovid-19 and now they’re about to give its approval to Moderna. Both have a similar structure, but also some differences.

Cold storage

The main difference between the two vaccines is their cold storage. While Pfizer’s needs temperatures between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius, which has required organizing an expensive and complex distribution and storage system, Moderna’s only requires -20 degrees, like a domestic freezer.

Outside of the super-freezers that the Pfizer vaccine needs, the serum lasts 5 days in a refrigerator, while the Moderna one lasts up to 30 days, which makes it much more logistically manageable, especially for developing countries.


The two vaccines require two doses, but Moderna’s are 100 micrograms and must be administered 28 days apart, while Pfizer’s are 30 micrograms, to be administered 21 days apart.


Both vaccines have shown an efficiency close to 95%, much higher than expected, but Moderna’s has demonstrated the ability to prevent severe cases of COVID-19, according to data published by US regulators.


The two vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, which is introduced into human cells so that the body itself produces viral proteins that serve to generate the antibodies it needs to defend itself. However, each vaccine uses its own type of lipid coat to protect messenger RNA.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US regulator, has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for people over 16 years of age; that of Moderna, however, is prepared for those over 18.


While Pfizer is one of the great pharmaceutical companies with 170 years of history, Moderna is a biotech company barely a decade since its founding and without any product on the market. Moderna, until recently a startup, had never before filed a vaccine with the FDA.

Public support

Moderna has actively participated in the Donald Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed ​​and has accessed 2.5 billion dollars in federal funds to buy new materials, expand its facilities and increase its workforce by 50%. Pfizer, on the other hand, has not been part of this public operation although it did sign a contract with the Government for the purchase of 100 million doses.


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