Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is nearly 95% effective

Nov 16 2020, 6:25 am

Moderna, an American biotech company, says early analysis of its phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial shows it is 94.5% effective at preventing the virus, offering a glimmer of hope with the second breakthrough in as many weeks.

Moderna is the United States’ second vaccine to have an impressively high success rate.

The company, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, says vaccinations could begin in the second half of December and are expected to begin with high-priority groups including healthcare workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions.

The company expects mass quantities to be available to the rest of the population by Spring 2021.

Moderna says its phase 3 trial enrolled more than 30,000 participants in the United States, including people over 65 who were deemed “high risk” and from participants identifying as “being from diverse communities.”

The company says its vaccine “did not have any serious side effects,” and a small percentage of those who received the trial shot experienced “body aches and headaches.” Moderna plans to apply for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization of its vaccine after it accumulates more safety data later on in November.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” says Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

“Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters. This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”

Last week, Pfizer announced that early data of its vaccine is more than 90% effective against coronavirus.

Pfizer’s vaccine has to be kept at a -75ºC, a temperature that is fickle for doctors’ offices and pharmacies to be kept stored that low. Moderna’s vaccine can be kept at -20ºC.

Moderna also claims its vaccine can be kept for 30 days in the refrigerator, compared to Pfizer’s which lasts only five days in refrigeration.

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Last week, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said that when a coronavirus vaccine is approved, there will be a limited supply at first.

Dr. Theresa Tam said that she is “cautiously optimistic” that a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus will be available in the first quarter of 2021 and said initial supplies of the vaccine will be in short order.

Tam stressed that clinical trials still need to continue and that Health Canada needs to approve any vaccines that are deemed safe and effective. Once vaccines are approved, the government will receive additional advice on prioritization from the NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) based on the characteristics of each vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said obtaining vaccines for Canadians is a top priority for his government.

Decisions on which vaccines to pursue, which populations get first access, and how they are distributed across the country will be based on the recommendations of experts, Trudeau said, adding that the provinces will also be part of the conversation.

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