Nov 16, 2020 - Health

Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine is nearly 95% effective

Moderna said Monday that its coronavirus vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective in fighting the virus, per an initial analysis released by the company.

Why it matters: The Moderna vaccine — alongside Pfizer's similarly effective candidate — provides another dash of hope that the pandemic currently raging across the world could be tamed by next year.

The state of play: Moderna's study, done in collaboration with the National Institute of Health, looked at 30,000 participants — with half receiving a placebo.

  • In 95 cases of COVID-19 that developed among participants, 90 were taking the placebo.
  • Of the 11 people who contracted "severe" COVID-19 infections, all were taking a placebo.
  • Moderna reports there are no significant safety concerns so far.
  • The company also said that the vaccine could be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to a month — compared to Pfizer's vaccine candidate, which requires ultra-cold conditions.

What they're saying: "It’s extremely good news. If you look at the data, the numbers speak for themselves," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, per the Washington Post.

  • "I describe myself as a realist, but I’m fundamentally a cautious optimist. I felt we’d likely get something less than this. … I said certainly a 90-plus-percent effective vaccine is possible, but I wasn’t counting on it."

The big picture: The Moderna vaccine was part of the federal government's Operation Warp Speed acceleration project, and the company received about $2.5 billion to back its research and development.

  • Pfizer, on the other hand, funded its own vaccine research but did commit to an Operation Warp Speed deal to speed potential distribution.

Worth noting: Like Pfizer's announcement last week, Moderna's details on its vaccine candidate came in the form of a press release.

  • The data has not been peer-reviewed and its effectiveness could change as the study progresses, but Moderna says they plan to submit to a peer-reviewed publication when the study is complete.
  • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that his company had avoided such specificity about effectiveness given that the numbers could continue changing as its trial continues.

Go deeper: Axios Re:Cap podcast speaks with Moderna's chief medical officer

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