Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is “94.5% effective” in preventing infections, according to first data released Monday by the US biotech company.
The results come just after last week’s announcement by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer that its vaccine candidate was 90 percent effective.
It’s as good as it gets – 94.5% is really exceptional, ”Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease specialist, said of Moderna news.
Initial results showed the vaccine protected people against both mild and severe forms of Covid-19, according to the company.
In the Moderna trial, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo, which is an injection of saline solution with no effect. Over several months, 90 of these people developed Covid-19.
Another 15,000 participants received the vaccine, and five of them developed Covid-19.
Of those who received a placebo, 11 became seriously ill, but none of the participants who received the vaccine became seriously ill.
The company said its vaccine did not have significant side effects. A small percentage of those who received it experienced symptoms such as body aches and headaches.
Moderna plans to seek clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine shortly after accumulating more safety data later this month.
Fauci said he expects the first vaccinations to start “around the end of December, rather than around the beginning of December”.
Comparison of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates: Moderna’s vaccine has some practical advantages over Pfizer’s. Moderna vaccine can be stored in a freezer typically available in doctor’s offices and pharmacies, and then can be stored in the refrigerator for 30 days. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored much colder, and doctors’ offices and pharmacies don’t have freezers this low. It can then stay in the refrigerator for only five days.