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  • The data has not been peer-reviewed and its effectiveness could change as the study progresses, but Moderna says they plan to submit to a peer-reviewed publication when the study is complete.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

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
23 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus death rates rising across the country

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Census Bureau; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Daily coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday, when roughly 2,800 people died from the virus.

The big picture: Caseloads and hospitalizations continue to rise, and deaths are spiking in states all across the country.

11 hours ago - World

UN: "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme. Photo: Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP via Getty Images

Next year is "going to be catastrophic" in terms of worldwide humanitarian crises, World Food Program executive director David Beasley warned on Friday, per Reuters.

Driving the news: The stark outlook comes as many countries contend with not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also possible famine, economic instability, conflict and other humanitarian crises. A record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year, a nearly 40% increase from 2020, the UN projected earlier this week