Can Moderna or Pfizer be used indiscriminately as a booster dose?

The government announces, logistics must follow. A week after being informed that they would mainly receive the vaccine from Moderna rather than that from Pfizer, the vaccination center referees must once again change their minds in the emergency and unpreparedness.

“For the moment we are taken aback. For four-five days, we have been trying to organize ourselves but we do not know exactly how many doses we will have for each vaccine ”, breathes Alain Assouline, referring doctor at the Cresco center in Saint-Mandé (Val-de-Marne). While he was promised 70% deliveries from Pfizer and 30% from Moderna, he finally received his full delivery on Thursday… and only from Pfizer. “I think that even the regional health agencies [ARS, qui distribuent les dotations aux centres] do not know in advance ”, slips the doctor, relieved not to have to explain this week to his patients why they are receiving Moderna when they had registered for Pfizer. Even if the Ministry of Health is committed to supplying these missed appointments with the state stock, the professional suspects that some users will be disappointed.

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Same situation at the vaccination center of the town hall of Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), where the 80% mix of Moderna 20% of Pfizer has turned into 100% Pfizer. “People don’t understand anything anymore. And the problem is, nobody wants Moderna ”, laments Pierre-Etienne Manuellan, the referring doctor. “It takes a national campaign to make it clear that Pfizer and Moderna are the same thing, it’s like Dafalgan and Efferalgan, only the packaging changes”, he assures.

“Twin vaccines”

A little wind of panic has been blowing since Pfizer is becoming rarer in the centers and questions are pouring in: is a booster in Moderna really risk-free after a primary vaccination with Pfizer? Is this scheme more efficient? Are the two vaccines interchangeable?

“It is fair to say that Moderna and Pfizer are twin vaccines. They are based on the same technology, they are said to have the same vaccine platform: messenger RNA encapsulated with lipids which provokes an immune response directed against the spike protein ”, slice Dominique Deplanque, president of the French Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Despite differentiated assessment processes and monitoring strategies, “It was implicit that we allow their substitution at a time, we could have done it earlier”, insists the professor of medical pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine of Lille.

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Can Moderna or Pfizer be used indiscriminately as a booster dose?