Moderna Inc. has revealed that its experimental vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing the novel coronavirus. The American biotech company’s announcement comes a week after Pfizer and BioNTech declared that their vaccine against COVID-19 was more than 90 per cent effective.
In Moderna’s trial, as per various US media reports, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo. This is a shot of saline which has no effect. Over several months, 90 participants developed COVID-19 and 11 developed severe forms of the disease. Then another 15,000 participants were the vaccine, of which only five developed the COVID-19 but none of them became severely sick. The pharmaceutical company said that a small percentage of those given the vaccine, experienced symptoms such as body aches and headaches. There were no serious side effects.
Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, in an official statement said the positive interim analysis from their Phase 3 study has given them the first clinical validation that the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease. Dr Tal Zacks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, described it as one of the greatest moments in his life and career. “It is absolutely amazing to be able to develop this vaccine and see the ability to prevent symptomatic disease with such high efficacy,” he said.
After accumulating safety data, the company looks forward to applying to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its vaccine. Besides the remarkable high success rate, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius. Zacks pointed out that the vaccine can be kept in a readily available freezer that is available in most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. The vaccine can be kept for up to 30 days in the refrigerator. The company expects to ship up to 20 million vaccine doses across the US by the end of 2020, and its working towards making 500 million to 1 billion doses worldwide.