Moderna says its vaccine shows strong results against COVID-19

Daniel Fowler
November 17, 2020

The news echoed a similar announcement exactly one week ago from USA pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which sent investors cheering with word that its vaccine candidate appeared to be more than 90 per cent effective.

And even better, it appears it can be kept in a standard fridge, making it much easier to store.

The government has scrambled to secure the vaccine, with Matt Hancock announcing this afternoon that the United Kingdom has signed an "initial agreement" to purchase five million doses, but only from April.

Latest official figures show that in the last 24 hours 21,363 new cases were confirmed and another 213 deaths were reported, which takes the total to 52,147. Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at the research charity Wellcome, suggests not only are there pragmatic hurdles in delivering effective vaccines to everyone across the globe, but actually getting people to take the vaccine could prove unexpectedly hard.

With Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, "we have two spike protein-based vaccines that are good", Dr Kang said. Pfizer plans to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month to authorize use of the shot, setting up potential distribution to begin by the end of the year.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines are among the most advanced in development in the West, along with candidates from AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc.

Moderna also released data about the number of patients who had severe Covid-19.

There were 11 severe cases in the placebo group and none among those that got the vaccine.

The FDA wants to see two months of safety monitoring for at least half of the 30,000 people in the trial, a milestone Moderna expects by the end of November.

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Moderna, part of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed program, expects to produce about 20 million doses for the United States this year, millions of which the company has already made and is ready to ship if it gets FDA authorisation.

"Assuming we get an emergency use authorisation, we'll be ready to ship through Warp Speed nearly in hours", Mr Hoge said.

The 95 cases included 15 adults aged 65 or over, and 20 participants from diverse communities including 12 people who identified as Hispanic, 4 Black Americans, 3 Asian Americans and 1 person who was multiracial. He said having similar results from two different companies is reassuring.

Most side effects from the experimental vaccine were mild to moderate.

Europe's health regulator said on Monday it had launched a real-time "rolling review" of Moderna's vaccine, as it has done for vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca. A significant proportion of volunteers, however, experienced more severe aches and pains after taking the second dose, including about 10 per cent who had fatigue severe enough to interfere with daily activities while another 9 per cent had severe body aches. On August 24, the EU Commission, which conducts talks with vaccine makers on behalf of EU states, said exploratory talks with Moderna had been concluded with the aim of signing a contract for the supply of 80 million doses of its vaccine, with the option of buying another 80 million.

Katherine O'Brien, director of the WHO's immunization department, said the discovery of a highly-effective vaccine was like building a base camp on Mount Everest.

The federal government may decide to vaccinate health-care workers and first responders first, followed by other segments of the population in phases until more doses are made next year.

The company hopes to produce between 500 million and 1 billion doses in 2021, split between its USA and global manufacturing sites, depending in part on demand.

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