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Computer-model shows mRNA vaccine provides an extra 7.4 days of life when faced with post-infection complications

According to the model, if a 65-year-old patient experiences long-term post-infection problems and has received the mRNA vaccination (Pfizer or Moderna), they would live, on average, 7.4 days longer than if they had not gotten the vaccine. When compared to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, obtaining the mRNA vaccination would provide the patient a little more than an extra day of life.

Hesitancy regarding receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is an issue that is at the forefront of reasons why a recent surge in COVID-19 cases has emerged worldwide. This doubt amongst a large portion of the population has become a serious issue in the ability to generate herd immunity. To investigate this dilemma, researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine set out to create a decision analytic model. 

Decision-analytic models are used for systematically gathering clinical and economic information, and assessing the benefits of a product in order to convey the product’s value to users.

The computerized decision-analytic model created by the researchers compared the anticipated results of three vaccine strategies: a patient receiving a messenger RNA vaccine, an adenovirus vector vaccine, or did not receive any vaccine at all. The results are measured in QALYs or Quality-Adjusted Life Years. 

The model developed was based on the health results for a 65-year-old. The study found that if the 65 year old patient had long-term post-infection complications and had received the mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), they would have an extra 7.4 days of life compared to if they had no vaccine. Receiving the mRNA vaccine would give the patient a little more than an extra day of life compared to receiving an adenovirus vector vaccine (Johnson & Johnson produced). This was portrayed through the results that the mRNA vaccine was favoured over an adenovirus vector vaccine by 0.0028 QALYs (Quality-Adjusted Life Years).  

A primary care physician at UC Health and the study’s lead author, Dr. Mark Eckman stated, “The important point is that both types of vaccines are better than no vaccine,”If we take a public health perspective by multiplying that gain over the vaccine eligible population, it results in a large net benefit for the nation.”

Despite the reported rare side effects associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the research indicates that it is still better to receive the vaccine than to forgo it.

Patients often do not get to choose which vaccine they want. They just arrive at a vaccine clinic and receive the specific vaccine that is available. However, through this study and the findings that mRNA vaccines have a better effect, the researchers suggest that it may be a good idea to allow patients to choose exactly which vaccine they prefer. 

Dr. Eckman concluded, “Our analysis showed that both vaccines yield virtually equivalent results. The take-home message is that receiving either type of the vaccine is better than not getting vaccinated at all.” 


The study was published in MDM Policy & Practice, on July 20th, 2021.

Eckman, Mark H., et al. “Take Your Best Shot: Which SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Should I Get?” MDM Policy & Practice, vol. 6, no. 2, 2021, p. 238146832110312., doi:10.1177/23814683211031226. 

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