How does the Moderna vaccine work and when can you get it?
Biopharma leader Moderna Inc. said its COVID vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing novel coronavirus. The latest vaccine update comes a week after the successful clinical trials of Pfizer vaccine, bringing a ray of hope in the global diagnostic community ravaged by the epidemic.
Stéphane Bancel, Modern’s chief executive, said the moment was “pivotal” in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. "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,” Bancel said.
The Moderna vaccine could be shipped and stored for up to six months at minus 20C, and then remain stable once thawed for 30 days if refrigerated at 2C and 8C. In contrast, the Pfizer vaccine must be transported at minus 75C and can survive in a normal fridge for only five days, making it more complicated to distribute in hotter geographies.
Moderna shares jumped by almost 9 percent to $97 in lunchtime trading in New York, and S&P futures gained 1.2 percent.
How does the Moderna Vaccine work?
The company released a statement on Monday claiming that the first analysis of data from more than 30,000 participants showed the Moderna vaccine prevented virtually all symptomatic cases of COVID-19. Out of those 30,000 volunteers in the clinical trials, 95 had been identified with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Among those infected with the novel coronavirus, only five people had received the two-dose vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, while 90 had received a placebo.
The 95 cases in the trial included older adults and 20 participants identifying as being from diverse communities. According to an interim analysis, the Moderna vaccine proves to have a “broadly consistent safety and efficacy profile across all evaluated subgroups.”
Moderna also added that the COVID vaccine did not have any side effects and that only a small percentage of volunteers experienced symptoms like body aches and headaches.
Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, described the results as a “home run” for the company’s mRNA technology, which sends genetic code into a cell to teach the body to produce antibodies to kill the virus.
Moderna’s vaccine is based on a molecule known as mRNA, or messenger RNA. (This molecule helps in the process of making proteins inside cells.) Researchers at Moderna created an mRNA with the code for developing the coronavirus spike protein. This protein is the key to the virus infecting the cells. It can trigger your immune system to create antibodies against the virus, and that too without causing the infection.
In order to work, the Moderna vaccine involves two doses, timed a few weeks apart.
When will the COVID vaccine be ready?
Moderna plans to submit the vaccine for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks. It will join the likes of pharmaceutical industry leaders such as Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc. in filing for emergency-use clearance by FDA.
Moderna said it intended to submit the vaccine for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration “in the coming weeks”, raising the prospect of at least two emergency-approved vaccines before the end of the year.
According to Alex Azar, head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the latest developments in cure for COVID-19 serve as “an incredible tribute to American scientists and innovators, and one more reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Under Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s flagship vaccine program, Moderna receive about $2 billion in funding and operation support.
According to The Guardian, the Moderna vaccine may not be available outside the US until 2021. The biopharma leader said it would have 20 million doses ready to ship in the United States before the end of the current year. It claims it could be able to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses for the rest of the world in 2021.