Moderna vaccine 94.5pc effective in second breakthrough

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) biotech firm Moderna yesterday announced its experimental vaccine against COVID-19 was 94.5 per cent effective, marking a second major breakthrough in the vaccine hunt.

Moderna released early results from a clinical trial with more than 30,000 participants, after US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech last week said their vaccine was 90 per cent effective.

Both vaccine frontrunners are based on a new platform called messenger RNA, which is faster to produce than traditional vaccines and effectively turn human cells into vaccine factories.

“This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” said Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel.

The company plans to submit applications for emergency approval in the US and around the world within weeks, and said it expects to have approximately 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of the year.

The Moderna vaccine, which was co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health, is given in two doses 28 days apart, and the preliminary results are based on 95 volunteers of the 30,000 who fell ill with COVID-19.

Of the 95, 90 had been in the trial’s placebo group, and five in the group that received the drug, called mRNA-1273.

A lab technician sorts blood samples inside a lab for a Covid-19 vaccine study. PHOTO: AFP