Why Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine results represent more good news for Canada

Daniel Fowler
November 16, 2020

Moderna's success comes exactly a week after Germany's BioNTech (BNTX) and its United States partner Pfizer (PFE) said their vaccine was around 90% effective in phase 3 trials, based on preliminary data.

The vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million.

Moderna Inc became the second United States pharmaceutical company to release data from a large study of its experimental vaccine, saying it was 94.5 percent effective against COVID-19.

"The light at the end of the tunnel just got even brighter", tweeted Atul Gawande, a member of US President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory board and a surgeon at a Harvard-affiliated hospital.

"I cannot give an exact number but I can guarantee that we are making every effort to supply the vaccines to Israel, as we promised", Zaks added.

It says it's on track to manufacture between 500 million to a billion doses globally in 2021.

COVID-19 cases continue to soar across the country, which entered the second wave of the virus in September, according to the prime minister.

But Moderna's independent monitors reported some additional promising tidbits: All 11 severe COVID-19 cases among its volunteers were placebo recipients, and there were no significant safety concerns.

There were 11 people who fell severely ill, all of whom were in the placebo group.

Moderna's vaccine is closely tied with "Operation Warp Speed", a Trump administration program that provided almost $1 billion in government funding for research and support, and placed the vaccine on an FDA fast-track. These events were "generally short-lived", the company said.

British PM Boris Johnson goes into self-isolation after COVID-19 contact
Johnson had contracted the virus at the end of March and was admitted to intensive care as his condition deteriorated after self-isolating for 10 days.

After the first dose, about three percent of people had injection site pain classed as severe.

A small percentage of participants did exhibit mild to moderate side effects after the second dose of the vaccine was administered, Moderna confirmed, with around 10% suffering from fatigue and a further 9% suffering from body aches.

"We are going to have a vaccine that can stop Covid-19", Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a telephone interview.

The big difference compared to the Pfizer announcement is that the vaccine here can be stored at refrigerator temperature for 30 days, and that will allow transportation much easier compared to Pfizer's supposed vaccine.

The company added it could be kept in long-term storage at standard freezer temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to six months.

Pfizer's vaccine must be shipped and stored at -70C, the sort of temperature typical of an Antarctic winter.

"Moderna was the first vaccine company that the Health Ministry signed a deal with, months ago", he said.

This would raise production costs and make it harder to scale-up. If the Pfizer vaccine is also authorized, federal officials said Monday they expect to be able to immunize about 20 million Americans during December. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus.

"While the vaccine shows extraordinary early results, how long the protection will last is to be seen". That triggers an immune response created to protect vaccinated people if they are later exposed to the actual virus.

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