Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine found to be 95% effective: Details here
American biotech company Moderna Therapeutics has announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was found to be nearly 95% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus disease. The company released the preliminary results from the Phase 3 clinical trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. These trials are conducted in humans in order to assess the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. Here are more details.
Researchers found the vaccine had efficacy of 94.5%
The findings are based on Moderna's trial in the US involving 30,000 people split into two groups—one group received two doses of the shot, while the other was given a placebo. The researchers found that based on data from 95 participants who developed COVID-19 symptoms, the vaccine had 94.5% efficacy. Of them, 90 were given the placebo, and the remaining five received the vaccine.
No severe COVID-19 cases in people who were immunized
According to Moderna, of the 95 confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the trial, 11 were severe ones. However, none of the severe cases occurred in people who received the vaccine. This development comes days after Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech announced that their vaccine candidate is 90% effective. Notably, Moderna's vaccine is also based on a similar mRNA technology as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Here's what Moderna tweeted on the development
We just announced that mRNA-1273, our COVID-19 vaccine candidate, has met its primary efficacy endpoint in the first interim analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study.— Moderna (@moderna_tx) November 16, 2020
Read more: https://t.co/vYWEy8CKCv pic.twitter.com/YuLubU1tlx
Moderna to apply for EUA from FDA in coming weeks
Moderna said it plans to approach the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the coming weeks, for an emergency-use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine. However, its vaccine is unlikely to be available outside the US until next year. The company is projected to have 20 million doses ready in America by 2020-end, and manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021.
No significant safety concerns, shows safety data
Interestingly, Moderna said that the safety data available for its vaccine indicated no significant safety concerns. On the other hand, side effects observed in the interim analysis reportedly included pain at the injection site, fatigue, and aching muscles and joints. "This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate," said Stephane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, in a statement.
First clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19: Bancel
"Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters," said Bancel. "This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease," he added.
What about the cost?
The cost for Moderna's two-shot course is, however, more expensive compared to other vaccine forerunners, reports say. Moderna's vaccine is likely to cost around £38-45 (approximately Rs. 3,730-4,420), while Pfizer's two-shot course is expected to cost £30 (Rs. 2,950). The Oxford University-AstraZeneca shot might cost £3 (Rs. 295), while both Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi-GSK vaccine candidates are expected to cost £8 (Rs. 785).
Moderna's vaccine has major advantage over the Pfizer shot
Despite being costlier than Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's shot would have a major advantage in terms of shelf-life and stability. Pfizer's vaccine must be stored between -70C and -80C, which might pose logistical challenges. But Moderna's vaccine is easier to store and distribute. It can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures of 2-8C for 30 days, and at -20C for six months for shipping/long-term storage.