Differences in mRNA-1273 (Moderna) and BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) SARS-CoV-2 vaccine immunogenicity among patients undergoing dialysis

CMAJ. 2022 Feb 28;194(8):E297-E305. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.211881. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Background: Differences in immunogenicity between mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have not been well characterized in patients undergoing dialysis. We compared the serologic response in patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 with BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna).

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational cohort study at 2 academic centres in Toronto, Canada, from Feb. 2, 2021, to July 20, 2021, which included 129 and 95 patients who received the BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, respectively. We measured SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G antibodies to the spike protein (anti-spike), receptor binding domain (anti-RBD) and nucleocapsid protein (anti-NP) at 6-7 and 12 weeks after the second dose of vaccine and compared those levels with the median convalescent serum antibody levels from 211 controls who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Results: At 6-7 weeks after 2-dose vaccination, we found that 51 of 70 patients (73%) who received BNT162b2 and 83 of 87 (95%) who received mRNA-1273 attained convalescent levels of anti-spike antibody (p < 0.001). In those who received BNT162b2, 35 of 70 (50%) reached the convalescent level for anti-RBD compared with 69 of 87 (79%) who received mRNA-1273 (p < 0.001). At 12 weeks after the second dose, anti-spike and anti-RBD levels were significantly lower in patients who received BNT162b2 than in those who received mRNA-1273. For anti-spike, 70 of 122 patients (57.4%) who received BNT162b2 maintained the convalescent level versus 68 of 71 (96%) of those who received mRNA-1273 (p < 0.001). For anti-RBD, 47 of 122 patients (38.5%) who received BNT162b2 maintained the anti-RBD convalescent level versus 45 of 71 (63%) of those who received mRNA-1273 (p = 0.002).

Interpretation: In patients undergoing hemodialysis, mRNA-1273 elicited a stronger humoral response than BNT162b2. Given the rapid decline in immunogenicity at 12 weeks in patients who received BNT162b2, a third dose is recommended in patients undergoing dialysis as a primary series, similar to recommendations for other vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2019-nCoV Vaccine mRNA-1273
  • Aged
  • BNT162 Vaccine
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • 2019-nCoV Vaccine mRNA-1273
  • BNT162 Vaccine

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