Why you can’t compare Covid-19 vaccines

Why you can’t compare Covid-19 vaccines

What a vaccine’s “efficacy rate” actually means.

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In the US, the first two available Covid-19 vaccines were the ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines have very high “efficacy rates,” of around 95%. But the third vaccine introduced in the US, from Johnson & Johnson, has a considerably lower efficacy rate: just 66%.

Look at those numbers next to each other, and it’s natural to conclude that one of them is considerably worse. Why settle for 66% when you can have 95%? But that isn’t the right way to understand a vaccine’s efficacy rate, or even to understand what a vaccine does. And public health experts say that if you really want to know which vaccine is the best one, efficacy isn’t actually the most important number at all.

Further reading from Vox:

Why comparing Covid-19 vaccine efficacy numbers can be misleading: https://www.vox.com/22311625/covid-19-vaccine-efficacy-johnson-moderna-pfizer

The vaccine metric that matters more than efficacy: https://www.vox.com/22273502/covid-vaccines-pfizer-moderna-johnson-astrazeneca-efficacy-deaths

The limits of what vaccine efficacy numbers can tell us: https://www.vox.com/21575420/oxford-moderna-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-trial-biontech-astrazeneca-results

Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.

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60 Responses

  1. Gabriel Negron says:

    Im tired of politicians playing science when they know nothing

  2. Tait's Take says:

    And even after backtracking, the mayor still said that the only reason they denied the J&J is because they had enough Pfizer* and Moderna. People are so afraid to say, “sorry I was wrong” and it’s terrifying.

  3. SierenGreenwalt says:

    While I wasn’t doubting the vaccine, this cleared up my confusion on the differences between the vaccines. I really appreciate this video. We’re almost there!

    • George Balan says:

      @Kaitlyn Warden “Experts” the level of disrespect for people who have gone to school for more years than your life probably, is immense. And also, that’s because at this point we have not gotten even close to herd immunity, as soon as we do the guidelines will relax.

    • David Jovel says:

      @Cale Phillips lol bruh, u gotta be from Texas

    • David Jovel says:

      @Cale Phillips 🐑

    • Adam Joseph says:

      @Cale Phillips you’d be surprised how smart you feel when everything that disagrees with you is “wrong”

    • Norev Namsob says:

      @Cale Phillips You’re on a screen making fun of people on screens…

  4. boy638 says:

    News outlets really have to clarify this more often for the older generations who watches TV for their info.

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @grytlappar Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Your moms DaugHter says:

      @Shawn Berthelette

      Delete your account please

    • armybeef68 says:

      As the young people believe everything they read on the internet and no longer have any common sense.

    • Alex T says:

      @Joe Y You might want to check your grammar. It’s nonexistent.

    • Alex T says:

      @Sahil Hassan No, they’re in the business of selling hemorrhoid cream, etc.

  5. Shivson D says:

    As med student I can confirm that this explanation on vaccine efficacy is better taught here at Vox than at my medical college.

  6. SkeletoPedia - Anatomy Education says:

    “Statistics is the grammar of science.” Shows how critical it is to understand the meaning of these numbers.

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @Smoll Bean Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      ​@Rose S. Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @S D Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @Daan Barr Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @OGZeus24 Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

  7. saishah joseph says:

    This is what responsible journalism looks like. Thank you for breaking this down and making it easily understandable.

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @Sujay95 Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @5280 OPERATOR Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Shawn Berthelette says:

      @Eli Kreppel Jesus is real we are living in the last days because no one believes in repenting to Jesus and giving up sin and making him Lord this is why were living in the last days and evil only runs this world because we rejected God; don’t believe me Repent your sins at home in Private and you will see for yourself that Jesus is real:)Realize that God gave us immune systems and also a connection to him through prayer don’t poison yourself instead save yourself because nobody is fixing or saving anything!

    • Benedict Estrada says:

      @Shawn Berthelette shut up 😌✨

    • Clover says:

      @Shawn Berthelette ayoo bro that cool but when did we ask

  8. Marush Denchev says:

    Now broadcast this to any TV channels on any county and let’s get this over with.

  9. Skyrim Isn’t For the Nords says:

    I got the Johnson vaccine two days ago, I was a bit worried that it wasn’t as good as the Pfizer and biontech , but this video cleared it up for me!

    • Jack Foxtrot - Electronic Music Studios says:

      It’s good to stay informed. I’d assume you have just mild symptoms that’ll go away on their own, yeah? Kinda like any other vaccine I suppose.

      Just remember to continue to stay safe, because you can still be asymptomatic or give it to others.

    • Juicicon says:

      @Eli Kreppel how do you know your allergic?

    • Tina Huỳnh says:

      I’m going to get it soon. Please let me know if you have any side effects.

    • Akash says:

      Which state are you in? Almost impossible to get a shot in NJ unless you are lying that you are a smoker or have some medical condition/old age.

    • Tina Huỳnh says:

      @Akash I’m in Texas. I am eligible because I’m a primary caregiver to a disabled person.

  10. F. OPE says:

    In the brazilian trials for Sinovac they didn’t use random regular people, but medical professionals who were basically guaranteed to be exposed to the virus. Still, they found 100% protection against severe cases and hospitalizations.

    • Aelwyn says:

      Yep. And SinoVac is much less efficacious than any of the vaccines presented in the video against mild disease. Basically, it looks like pretty much any vaccine will keep you safe from serious outcomes.

    • pravin poudel says:

      but most people are already safe from the infection and only get mild symptoms. So, what is the point of getting vaccine.

    • Eli Miller-Buza says:

      @Jinwon Lee lots of news reports but i cant find the study as the results have yet to be published in a journal.

    • Sean Johnston says:

      I was wondering about that as I’m being offered Sinovac or Sinopharm and am reluctant to get either because of the lack of transparency in China.

    • Goofy girl says:

      Sinovac is a CCP vaccine the same organisation who lied to you about the original of the virus……

      Now you do the maths!!

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