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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  • The data has not been peer-reviewed and its effectiveness could change as the study progresses, but Moderna says they plan to submit to a peer-reviewed publication when the study is complete.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

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker