PHOTO CREDITS: BOSTON GLOBE/GETTY IMAGES
Moderna Inc. said last Monday it’s experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a last-stage clinical trial, becoming the second U.S. company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.
The news comes a week after Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective. The results for both vaccines come from interim analyses of large clinical studies. In the Moderna study, there were 30,000 volunteers. Half got two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart; half got two shots of a placebo on the same schedule.
There were 95 instances of ‘after-vaccine illness’ among the study participants. Ninety were in the group receiving the Placebo. Of these, there were 11 cases of severe disease. The results indicate that the vaccine was preparing the immune-response in the body, which shows that the vaccine was working. “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,” chief executive officer of Moderna Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. Though Moderna got an exceptional effectivity, both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use the same technology to make their vaccines. The process is that “mRNA ”. mRNA sends a message in genetic code written on RNA to produce memory cells such as B and T lymphocytes and killer cell K lymphocytes. With coordination of both types of cells, the immune system protects a person if they are exposed to Coronavirus.
Moderna and Pfizer studies conducted using slightly different protocols. Participants in the Moderna study had to have at least two symptoms of the disease, while the Pfizer study required only one symptom. Also, Moderna waited 14 days following the second dose while Pfizer waited for just a week. Moderna said its vaccine can be stored at -4°C, while Pfizer’s vaccine required ultracold freezer cooling below -70°C.
Pfizer and Modern are still gathering safety data the FDA has said necessary for consideration of an emergency use authorization that would allow companies to distribute the vaccine during the pandemic. Moderna said it intends to file “in the coming weeks” with the FDA for authorization of the company’s vaccine for emergency use.
Moderna last Monday said that it expects to be able to ship about 20 million vaccine doses in the U.S. by the end of 2020. Next year, the company said it expects to be able to make half a billion to 1 billion doses worldwide. The research and development of the Moderna vaccine were funded $955 million by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Moderna has also been developing this vaccine alongside the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, which in July told NOR it expects to spend about $410 million on effort.
ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH