Nov 17, 2020 - Health

More good news as the coronavirus crisis deepens

Illustration of a syringe supporting a life preserver ring

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're living in a pandemic split screen: There are now two coronavirus vaccines in the late stage of development that appear to be highly effective. But the first Americans will likely receive them against a backdrop of yet-to-be-seen pandemic horrors.

Why it matters: The end of the pandemic is increasingly in sight. But today's case counts all but ensure that the U.S. won't make it there without the nightmare scenario of overrun health systems all across the country.

Driving the news: Moderna announced yesterday that its vaccine is nearly 95% effective — a week after Pfizer made a similarly encouraging announcement.

  • Moderna also said its vaccine appears to have prevented severe infections, a detail left unaddressed in the Pfizer announcement.
  • Additionally, it appears to have protected elderly participants and participants of color — groups ravaged by the pandemic.
  • It's still unclear how long the immunity offered by either vaccine would last. That has implications for manufacturing and how frequently people would need boosters, as well as for the ongoing risk of transmitting the virus, as STAT notes.

What we're watching: Both vaccines will likely file for emergency authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration over the next few weeks, and the two companies combined are expected to produce enough doses for 35 million people by the end of the year.

Yes, but: The number of doses Moderna is expected to produce this year "won't even cover all of America's frontline health care workers," tweeted Angela Rasmussen, a virologist with Georgetown University. "So my take home message is we still have many months to go."

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