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Moderna vaccine 94.5% effective in second breakthrough
In this file photo a view of Moderna headquarters is seen on May 8, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. US biotech firm Moderna on May 18, 2020 reported "positive interim" results in the first clinical tests of its vaccine against the new coronavirus performed on a small number of volunteers. The vaccine appeared to produce an immune response in eight people who received it, of the same amplitude as that observed in people infected with the virus, the company said, adding that phase 3 trials with a large number of volunteers would begin in July.
AFP/MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

Moderna vaccine 94.5% effective in second breakthrough

Issam Ahmed (Agence France-Presse) - November 16, 2020 - 9:06pm

WASHINGTON, United States — US biotech firm Moderna on Monday announced its experimental vaccine against COVID-19 was 94.5% effective, marking a second major breakthrough in the vaccine hunt.

Moderna released early results from a clinical trial with more than 30,000 participants, after US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech last week said their vaccine was 90% effective. 

Both vaccine frontrunners are based on a new platform called messenger RNA, which is faster to produce than traditional vaccines and effectively turn human cells into vaccine factories.

"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," said Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO.

The company plans to submit applications for emergency approval in the US and around the world within weeks, and says it expects to have approximately 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of the year.

Global infections from COVID-19 have soared past 54 million with more than 1.3 million deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

The Moderna vaccine, which was co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health, is given in two doses 28 days apart, and the preliminary results are based on 95 volunteers of the 30,000 who fell ill with COVID-19.

Of the 95, 90 had been in the trial's placebo group, and five in the group that received the drug, called mRNA-1273.

'Tremendously exciting'

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

The vaccine was well tolerated, with the majority of side-effects classed as mild or moderate.

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

Among side-effects classed as severe after the second dose, about 10 percent had fatigue, nine percent had muscle pain, five percent had joint pain or headaches, four percent had other pain and two percent had redness at the injection site.

These adverse events were "short lived," according to a statement.

"This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months," said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

Crucially, Moderna also announced that its vaccine can remain stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days.

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, on the other hand, needs to be stored in deep-freezer conditions which could complicate supply chain logistics, particularly in less developed countries.

It is not yet clear how long lasting the protection will be from either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, nor how well they work for the elderly, the age-group at highest risk from COVID-19.

COVID-19 VACCINES MODERNA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 26, 2021 - 6:13pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

February 26, 2021 - 6:13pm

The United States hails progress in turning around its troubled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, as the European Union says it was on track to meet jab targets and Asia's inoculation drive gained pace on Friday.

Brazil hit 250,000 fatalities -- the second-highest national death toll after the United States -- while the worldwide vaccine campaign received the endorsement of Queen Elizabeth II, 94, who urged people not to be wary of the shot.

President Joe Biden declared the US rollout is now "weeks ahead of schedule" as he celebrated 50 million doses administered since he took office on January 20, but he warned Americans to keep masking up. — AFP

February 26, 2021 - 9:49am

A US panel of independent experts is set to vote Friday on whether to recommend emergency approval of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot Covid-19 vaccine, potentially paving the way for at least three million doses to ship next week. 

The committee's 22 members, who were convened by the Food and Drug Administration and include leading scientists as well consumer and industry representatives, will hold a daylong virtual meeting to decide if the known benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. 

It is an exercise in transparency without parallel among other advanced countries, giving the public access to the nitty gritty details of the scientific debate. —  AFP

February 24, 2021 - 4:59pm

Ghana receives the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Covax, a global scheme to procure and distribute inoculations for free, as the world races to contain the pandemic.

Covax, launched last April to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations, said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of the year. — AFP

February 22, 2021 - 2:02pm

The world's biggest vaccine maker, India's Serum Institute, has urged other countries to be "patient" about it supplying anti-coronavirus shots, saying it has been instructed to prioritize its home market.

"Dear countries & governments, as you await #COVISHIELD supplies, I humbly request you to please be patient," Serum chief Adar Poonawalla tweeted on Sunday.

"@SerumInstIndia has been directed to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best."

Serum, from its sprawling facility in Pune in western India, is producing hundreds of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Many countries around the world, particularly poorer nations, are relying heavily on the company for supplies of the vaccine, and it has already shipped millions of doses abroad. — AFP

February 22, 2021 - 8:08am

Australia launches its public rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday amid protests over the campaign, including a vocal show of opposition by crowds at the final of the Australian Open.

Some 60,000 doses are set to be given this week, starting with frontline workers — from healthcare staff to hotel quarantine employees and police — and residents of aged care homes.

Morning television news programmes show the first shots being administered to medical and quarantine staff in Melbourne and Sydney, a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison received his jab in a "curtain-raiser" event aimed at convincing Australians the vaccine was safe. —  AFP

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