Hopes raised as second Covid vaccine trial shows almost 95% protection

Daniel Fowler
November 17, 2020

On November 9th the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced they had a vaccine which was at least 90 percent effective in early trials at preventing COVID-19 disease.

The news comes exactly a week after similar results from Pfizer and BioNTech, which announced broadly similar results. Soon, millions of people around the world could be spared from illness by the breakthroughs.

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

Moderna has said it expects the FDA application will include the "final analysis" of 151 cases of COVID-19 in its trial, rather than just the initial 95 cases.

More positive news in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine. There were no severe cases among people who got the vaccine, compared with 11 in volunteers who received placebo shots, according to Moderna's statement.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the Moderna results were "brilliant news".

The results arrive at a moment when the pandemic's grip is tightening. Europe has also seen cases soar as much of the world braces for what is expected to be a dire winter. The company will first need to ask the Food and Drug Aadministration for emergency use authorization (EUA), a limited green-light for higher-risk groups. The contract should be completed in the coming weeks.

Together with Pfizer's vaccine, also shown to be more than 90pc effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the U.S. could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60m doses of vaccine available by the end of the year.

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Pfizer did not accept federal money for its research and development but did strike a $1.95 billion deal for the pre-purchase of doses, pending regulatory approval of the vaccine.

This is another very promising sign for the potential of having effective vaccines available to the public in some kind of significant volume at some point next year.

Officials said advisory groups will figure out if which vaccines work best for specific populations, or if one vaccine is optimal for logistical reasons - for instance, rural areas might find Moderna's refrigeration specifications more feasible.

Pfizer's vaccine must be kept at around -94 degrees Fahrenheit - far colder than a typical freezer can accommodate.

Both the Moderna vaccine and Pfizer's are based on mRNA technology created to transform the body's own cells into vaccine making factories. This is a key protein used by the virus to infect cells. The company expects to have enough safety data required for USA authorization in the next week or so - and to file for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks. A small fraction of people experiences some severe but short-lived side-effects such as fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, as well as pain and redness around the injection site. Both companies are using a pioneering messenger-RNA platform for their vaccines.

Elliott said she thought the province would have some quantity of either vaccine "in the next few months". The U.S. has recorded more than 100,000 new infections every day since November 5, according to Johns Hopkins University data compiled by Bloomberg. Moderna on November 11 said its study had accumulated more than 53 infections, allowing a preliminary analysis to begin.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui told "Bill Hemmer Reports" that both Moderna and Pfizer will be filing for Emergency Use Authorization permits with the FDA within the next two weeks.

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