During a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked which of the three vaccines available in the US — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — was his favorite. While the question was clearly a bit of a joke, it did have some seriousness to it to the extent that some people have indicated a preference for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on account of their 95% efficacy rate.
Fauci, predictably, said that getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is more important than being able to pick and choose which vaccine you want.
“I would pick the one that was the most readily available to me,” Fauci said.
“All three of them are highly efficacious,” Fauci went on to say. “They have different characteristics, you know, cold storage, one dose versus two doses. But if I walked into a clinic and I wanted to get vaccinated and someone said, ‘You can have this vaccine now, or wait a few weeks for the next one,’ the important thing is to get vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can in order to protect yourselves, your family, and the community.”
Fauci, for what it’s worth, received the Moderna vaccine but said he would have gladly taken another one if it was available at the time.
“I don’t have any favorite,” Fauci said. “I happened to take the Moderna because in the clinic at the NIH where I am that was the one they shipped to us. But if they shipped another one, I would have readily taken that.”
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has an efficacy rate of 66%, a strict comparison against the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer isn’t exactly fair or helpful. It’s worth noting that the 66% figure measures how effective J&J’s vaccine was at preventing even a mild coronavirus infection. That figure, however, jumps all the way up to 86% when it comes to preventing a serious case of COVID. Suffice it to say, the practical efficacy of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is markedly higher than the statistics would otherwise suggest.
Another point worth mentioning is that the clinical trials conducted by the three companies above were done at different stages of the pandemic.
“I want to be very clear about this, the Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials ran many months ago toward the early part of this pandemic when there were no variants. Now everybody is hearing about these variants,” Dr. Russell Faust told The Oakland Press recently.
“The J&J clinical trials have been run more recently,” Faust added. “We’re really comparing apples to oranges. Despite that, the J&J vaccine has been very successful and has at least an 85% or better success rate at [preventing] severe disease and death which is really what this is about.”
Fauci’s full interview with Stephen Colbert can be viewed below.