Another Coronavirus Vaccine Has Great Initial Results

( Moderna got some great news over the weekend, learning that its coronavirus vaccine showed to be 94.5% effective.

Members of Moderna were told of the early data results on a Sunday call with members of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board. That group is an independent panel that is analyzing all the clinical trial data for Modern’s vaccine.

The chief medical officer of Moderna, Dr. Tal Zacks, commented on how he reacted learning of the results:

“It was one of the greatest moments in my life and my career. It is absolutely amazing to be able to develop this vaccine and see the ability to prevent symptomatic disease with such high efficacy.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci reacted positively as well, saying:

“These are obviously very exciting results. It’s just as good as it gets — 94.5% is truly outstanding.”

Fauci said it’s possible Moderna vaccinations could begin as early as the second half of December, starting with high-risk groups. As early as the spring, the general population could begin receiving the vaccine.

“I think that everybody else will start to get vaccinated towards the end of April,” he said. “And that will go into May, June, July. It will take a couple of months to do.”

This comes on the heels of Pfizer announcing early data showed its vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective against the coronavirus.

For Moderna’s trial, 15,000 participants were given a placebo. Of that group, 90 were infected with COVID-19, with 11 having a severe form.

There were another 150,000 who were given the actual vaccine. Of that group, only five people were infected with COVID-19, and none became severely ill.

Moderna also said there weren’t any serious side effects among the study participants. There were a small number of participants who had mild side effects such as headaches and body aches.

Later this month, Moderna is set to receive more safety data. If all goes well, the company says it will apply for authorization of the vaccine with the US Food and Drug Administration.

One of the advantages that Modern’s vaccine will seemingly have over Pfizer’s is that it can be stored at temperatures similar to that of other vaccines. Pfizer’s, meanwhile, needs to be stored at minus 75 degrees Celsius, and many pharmacies and doctor’s offices don’t have freezers that can accommodate that.

As Sacks said, the vaccine from Moderna can be stored in “a readily available freezer that is available in most doctors’ offices and pharmacies. We leverage infrastructure that already exists for other marketed vaccines.”

In addition, the vaccine from Moderna can also be stored for up to 30 days in a refrigerator, company officials said on Monday. The one from Pfizer can only be stored in a fridge for up to five days.

These logistical issues could be what pushes Moderna’s vaccine ahead of Pfizer’s. It may seem simple, but with so many vaccines needing to be distribute, logistics, storage and distribution are going to play a huge part in the successful vaccination.