Health officials around the world are sounding more cautious notes of optimism, with news that US company Moderna has found its Covid-19 candidate vaccine to be 94.5% effective in clinical trials. Following results last week that a vaccine developed by US firm Pfizer, in conjunction with its German partner BioNTech, had an effectiveness rate of 90%, both developments would appear to indicate a light at the end of the long dark Covid tunnel. The news comes as global Covid-19 cases top 54 million, with more than 1.3 million people killed by the virus.
Although both vaccines have been developed using the same methodology, a significant difference is that the Moderna vaccine can be kept refrigerated at a temperature of between 2 – 8 degrees Celsius for up to 30 days, or in a freezer at -20 degrees Celsius for up to 6 months. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, on the other hand, requires storage at around -75 degrees Celsius, potentially creating a distribution nightmare.
Moderna CEO, Stephane Bancel, has hailed the latest results from the firm’s Phase 3 trials.
“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.”
The Bangkok Post reports that Moderna plans to request emergency approval for worldwide distribution within weeks, with the aim of having around 20 million doses ready for US distribution by year end. The vaccine needs to be administered in 2 doses, 28 days apart. What’s yet to be determined is how long immunity from either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines will last, as well as their effectiveness in the elderly, who are most at risk from Covid-19.
The latest Moderna results are based on 95 out of a total of 30,000 who contracted the virus. Out of the 95, 90 had not been given the candidate vaccine, but instead received a placebo. The other 5 did receive the vaccine. None of the 11 volunteers who fell seriously ill with Covid-19 had received the vaccine.
Vaccine side-effects were also reported to be mild or moderate in most cases. After the first dose was administered, around 3% reported severe pain at the injection site. After the second dose, side-effects reported as severe included fatigue in 10% of volunteers, muscle pain in 9%, joint pain or headaches in 5%, other pain in 4%, and redness at the site of the injection in 2%. It’s understood all side-effects were short-lived.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post