A new vaccine that protects against the coronavirus is 94.5% effective, according to the first data from the American company Moderna.
The study involved 30,000 people from the United States, half of whom received two doses of the active vaccine four weeks apart, and the rest received placebo injections, a saline injection with no effect.
The first 95 volunteers who developed COVID-19 symptoms were analyzed – only five of the cases were in people who received the vaccine, compared to 90 who received the sham treatment.
The data also showed that, of the 11 severe coronavirus cases among volunteers, all occurred in the placebo group.
No major safety concerns have been reported: a review of requested adverse events indicates that the vaccine was generally well tolerated among participants.
Moderna plans to apply for Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks and expects to have 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of 2020. According to to a statement issued by the biotechnology firm On Monday, it also plans to have up to 1 billion doses ready for use worldwide by the end of 2021.
With similar news coming from Pfizer last week, Moderna’s data adds to the growing belief that vaccines could help end the pandemic that has gripped the world since March.
Both companies have developed messenger RNA vaccines that take a similar approach, in which part of the COVID-19 genetic code is injected so that the immune system can be trained to produce antibodies and T cells that attack the virus.
Preliminary data released by both companies so far is comparable, with around 90% protection from Pfizer’s vaccine and around 95% from Moderna’s, though as both trials are still underway, the final figures could change.
A key difference? Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store. Staying stable at -4 ° F for up to half a year, it can be stored in a normal refrigerator for up to four weeks. The Pfizer vaccine, on the other hand, requires to be stored below 80 degrees below zero, although it can be kept in a refrigerator for up to five days.
Having more than one vaccine available will be important to ending the pandemic. According to Wired science writer Adam Rogers, “All Covid candidate vaccines work in different ways and none will be perfect for everyone. It will take a number of options to help cover us all. ”
Looking to the future
“These are obviously very interesting results,” said an American physician and immunologist. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN. “It is as good as it sounds: 94.5% is really exceptional.”
Fauci said that high-risk groups such as healthcare workers, people with underlying health problems, and the elderly, could expect to receive the first COVID-19 vaccines by the end of December. From there, he said, “I think everyone else will start getting vaccinated towards the end of April… And that will continue in May, June, July. It will take a couple of months to do it. “
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