Germany cautions pregnant women and people under 30 get the Pfizer shot over Moderna

November 10, 2021, 4:03 PM UTC

Germany’s vaccine commission recommended that people under 30 and pregnant women should get the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE COVID shot rather than one from Moderna Inc. 

Rare heart-inflammation side effects appear more common with Moderna’s shot in younger patients, the commission said. While there’s no comparable safety data for pregnant women, the group advised the Pfizer-BioNTech shot out of caution. The recommendation applies for early vaccine rounds as well as boosters. There appears to be no heightened risk for people over 30, the commission said.

The German call follows a similar recent move in France, where health officials recommended using the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, whenever possible, in the under-30 population. The officials, however, noted that the Moderna shot appears to have a slightly higher efficacy and can be used for those 30 and up for initial vaccine rounds and in half-dose form for boosting purposes.

Moderna’s faced a string of setbacks of late, from production issues to regulatory scrutiny on product safety, that are forcing it to play catch-up with Pfizer and BioNTech concerning orders of booster shots for next year. The company recently cut its 2021 forecast for COVID vaccine sales to a range of $15 billion to $18 billion. BioNTech, meanwhile, raised its forecast to nearly $20 billion for this year while partner Pfizer is targeting $36 billion.

Moderna shares fell as much as 3.9% in early U.S. trading.

Moderna has yet to gain U.S. clearance for its vaccine for 12-to 17-year-olds. Regulators have said they need more time to examine the risk of myocarditis, a rare form of heart inflammation, before deciding on clearing it for that age group. Moderna has said its own safety database of 1.5 million individuals under 18 showed no increased heart inflammation risk.

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