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: January 23, 2021 - 11:34am

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)

January 23, 2021 - 11:34am

Pfizer announces that it will provide up to 40 million of its COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries on a non-profit basis, through the globally-pooled Covax facility.

While dozens of the world's richer countries have begun their vaccination campaigns in a bid to curb the pandemic, coronavirus jabs have been few and far between in the world's poorer nations. — AFP

January 22, 2021 - 5:14pm

The Hungarian government says it had reached a deal to buy large quantities of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, even though it has not been approved by the European Union's medicines watchdog.

"Hungary has concluded with Russia an agreement to buy in three phases large quantities of the Sputnik V vaccine; the contract has been negotiated, and signed during the night," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says in a video statement on his Facebook page after meeting the Russian health minister in Moscow. — AFP

January 22, 2021 - 1:44pm

The Brazilian government says that a shipment of two million doses of the British AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine was finally set to arrive in the country from India.

The delivery Friday would be a much-needed boost to Brazil's vaccination program.

"The two million doses of AstraZeneca should arrive in Brazil Friday in the late afternoon," the ministry of health says in a statement. — AFP

January 20, 2021 - 7:12pm

Japan aims to start vaccinating the general public against the coronavirus in May -- just two months before the postponed Olympics -- following targeted jabs for the most vulnerable, reports said Wednesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said the government is hoping the majority of adults will be vaccinated by July, when the Games are due to open.

The country has agreed with pharmaceutical firms to receive enough doses for all 126 million residents and is working to approve the Pfizer jab as the first to be used in Japan from next month. —  AFP

January 20, 2021 - 8:31am

Mexican authorities are investigating the theft of several coronavirus vaccines from a public hospital, the army said Tuesday, underscoring the challenges of distributing the shots across the crime-plagued country.

Mexico, which has one of the world's highest COVID-19 death tolls, has deployed the military to guard the vaccines and prevent them falling into criminals' hands.

The army said that the stolen vaccines were under the control of a public health institution in a hospital in central Morelos state whose security is overseen by a private company.

"This theft could have been a dishonest act of self-interest by a member of the hospital's vaccination team," it said in a statement. — AFP

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