The vaccine developed by the American biotech company Moderna is 94.5 percent effective against Covid-19. This number exceeds expectations. “We have a vaccine that can stop Covid-19,” said Stephen Hoge, chairman of Moderna.
Moderna uses approximately 30,000 test subjects for the tests. Some receive the candidate vaccine, others a placebo. In this control group, 90 people contracted the coronavirus. Only 5 people were infected with the people who received the drug Moderna. Of these 95 infected people, 11 became seriously ill, all from the control group of people who received a placebo.
15 cases occurred in people over 65, a group at high risk for severe symptoms. Initial results also show that the vaccine can prevent severe cases of Covid-19, which was not yet clear with the Pfizer vaccine.
The side effects appear to be mild, although 9 percent of subjects experienced muscle pain after the second dose and 10 percent were tired enough to interfere with their daily activities. These complaints quickly disappeared, according to Moderna.
Not kept cold
A key advantage of the Moderna vaccine is that, unlike that of its competitor Pfizer, it does not need to be stored in extremely cold temperatures, which makes distribution easier. The Moderna vaccine can be stored stably for 30 days at refrigerator temperature (2 to 8 degrees Celsius) and for up to six months at -20 degrees Celsius. Two injections 28 days apart are required.
The vaccine uses a new technology based on mRNA that the human body uses to induce cells to produce proteins that the immune system perceives as a threat and prompts action.
“We have a vaccine that can stop Covid-19,” announced Stephen Hoge, Chairman of Moderna. “This positive interim analysis of the study gives us the first clinical evidence that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including the severe form.”
The company believes there will be enough data next week to file an expedited application for approval from the U.S. health authorities. Moderna hopes to have 500 million to 1 billion doses by 2021. The European countries have already ordered tens of millions of cans. Usually, drug manufacturers do not apply for approval until trials of a new drug are complete. Once all the paperwork has been completed, regulators will begin to examine the results and decide whether the drug can be launched. At a rolling review Regulators watch over the shoulders of pharmaceutical companies when their data comes in.
The EMA is already examining two other possible vaccines. These are AZD1222 from AstraZeneca and Oxford University and BNT162b2 from Pfizer and BioNTech. The EMA CEO recently said that a third drug would be added soon but did not want to mention the name at the time. The Amsterdam-based EMA is responsible for the approval of vaccines and drugs on the European market.