Moderna: Vaccine almost 95% effective in preventing Covid-19

Moderna: Vaccine almost 95% effective in preventing Covid-19

Moderna Inc's experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second United States drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.

In the early look, the company said no significant safety concerns were reported, and the vaccine was generally well tolerated, with injection-site pain for some people after the first dose, and fatigue, headache and joint pain after the second. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine appeared similarly effective - news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

Moderna expects to deliver 20 million doses in the United States by the end of this year, and is targeting production up to 500 million doses in 2021, to be available globally.

Canada's main stock index opened higher on Monday, helped by a 4.7% jump in energy stocks as oil prices gained after Moderna Inc said its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19.

The data from Moderna's trial involving 30,000 volunteers also showed the vaccine prevented cases of severe Covid-19, a question that still remains with the Pfizer vaccine.

Other COVID-19 vaccines may come along that work just as well or even better than this new vaccine.

In the Phase 3-that is, late-stage-study of its vaccine, people at about 100 US locations were given two doses of the vaccine or a placebo, four weeks apart.

Both Moderna's trial and Pfizer's are continuing and efficacy figures could decline by the time the trials are complete.

The US government has said COVID-19 vaccines will be provided free to Americans, whether they have health insurance, are uninsured or are covered by government health programmes such as Medicare.

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The vaccination campaign could start before the end of the year, with enough doses for an estimated 20 million Americans in December and at least 25 million per month afterward, according to Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the White House's vaccine effort. "Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible", Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, said in a statement.

Moderna, part of the USA government's Operation Warp Speed programme, expects to produce about 20 million doses for the United States this year, millions of which the company has already made and is ready to ship if it gets FDA authorisation.

Moderna said the 95 Covid-19 cases included 15 people ages 65 years and older, and 20 people from diverse communities such as Hispanic or Latinx and Black people.

"This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate".

The formal signing of that contract is expected later this week.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. "We did not see any other serious side effects which would result in pausing or halting of the study", Sahin said.

Researchers won't have a full set of effectiveness data until a total of 151 people in the trial develop Covid-19 symptoms.

It said on November 11 that its vaccine was 92 percent effective based on 20 infections in its large trial.

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