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: November 28, 2020 - 1:41pm

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)

November 28, 2020 - 1:41pm

A think tank questions the rush to sign a vaccine supply deal with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca as experts doubt its reported success rate.

“With the new global trials involving the low-dose regimen, it is premature for government to make a supply commitment to AstraZeneca, unless and until there is a showing that the new trials will yield the same ninety-percent efficacy rating in its limited trial run,” says Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor.

November 28, 2020 - 11:01am

As a string of Covid-19 vaccines near approval, Frankfurt Airport staff are gearing up to handle the unprecedented logistical challenge of transporting millions of life-saving doses worldwide.

Frankfurt is Europe's largest hub for transporting pharmaceutical goods, and will be key to the success of inoculating millions of people against the deadly coronavirus. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 3:45pm

One of the developers of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine announces that India-based drugmaker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab.

"Hetero, one of India's leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce in India over 100 million doses per year of the world's first registered vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection -– Sputnik V," the Russian Direct Investment Fund says in a statement, adding that production was expected to start in early 2021.

Earlier this week, Russia said interim results from the Sputnik V clinical trails showed the vaccine was 95% effective, similar to other international vaccine makers that have also published test results showing efficacy rates of 90% and higher. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 11:14am

The World Health Organization urges African countries to improve their capacity to vaccinate populations against COVID-19, warning the continent was still "far from ready" for mass immunisation.

With three coronavirus vaccines now showing efficacy rates of 70% or more, the UN body called on Africa to "ramp up" preparations for "the continent's largest ever immunisation drive".

The African region is so far only 33 percent ready to roll out Covid-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization says in a statement. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 9:34am

The British government says it has asked its independent medicines regulator to assess AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine as part of the formal approval process for the drug to be rolled out by the end of the year.

More than 1.4 million people have died since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, and three drug developers -- Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University -- are currently applying for approval for their vaccines to be used as early as December. 

AstraZeneca has completed Phase III clinical trials of its vaccine, the last stage before regulatory approval. — AFP

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