US pharmaceutical company Moderna this week announced that it’s vaccine candidate had proved to be nearly 95 effective, reports the BBC.
Together with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is also more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the US could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.
How good is it?
The trial involved 30,000 people in the US with half being given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The rest had dummy injections. The analysis was based on the first 95 to develop Covid-19 symptoms.
Only five of the Covid cases were in people given the vaccine, 90 were in those given the dummy treatment. The company says the vaccine is protecting 94.5% of people.
The data also shows there were 11 cases of severe Covid in the trial, but none happened in people who were immunised.
When will I get it?
That depends on where you are in the world and how old you are. The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.
The UK announced that, from spring, it will have five million doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough to vaccinate 2.5 million people. It has already outlined plans that prioritise the oldest people for immunisation.
What don’t we know?
We still do not know how long immunity will last as volunteers will have to be followed for much longer before that can be answered.
There are hints it offers some protection in older age groups, who are most at risk of dying from Covid, but there is not full data.
Are there any side effects?
No significant safety concerns have been reported, but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.
Short lived fatigue, headache and pain were reported after the injection in some patients.
“These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response,” said Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London.
How does this compare to the Pfizer vaccine?
Both vaccines use the same approach of injecting part of the virus’s genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.
Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month. Pfizer’s vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75C, but it can be kept in the fridge for five days.
The Sputnik V vaccine, developed in Russia, has also released very early data which suggests it is 92% effective.
When will Covid be over?
In the space of a week, the positive results from Pfizer, Moderna and Russia have transformed our chances of ending the pandemic.
Before the first results, the talk was of a vaccine that offered maybe 50% protection. Those expectations have been blown out of the water – not only are vaccines possible, they appear to be potent.
Full BBC report
See also:Full analysis of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine