Ontario goverment working on plan to distribute, prioritize groups for coronavirus vaccine

Ontario goverment working on plan to distribute, prioritize groups for coronavirus vaccine

Last Monday, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective.

European authorities have hailed the promising trial data announced by USA biotech firm Moderna for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate - the second time in a week that a vaccine developer has announced expectation-exceeding results, following a similar announcement from Pfizer/BioNTech last week.

The Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines, if approved, will become the first licensed products using an approach that has been thought to hold enormous promise as a tool for responding to new disease threats.

The news sent Moderna stock soaring 8 per cent when stock markets opened on Monday but it was also a badly needed shot in the arm for the stock market overall, on hopes that the pandemic could be closer to its end than to its beginning.

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

Moderna's vaccine, like Pfizer's, uses a new technology known as messenger RNA. Most of these complaints were generally short-lived, Moderna said. It said on November 11 that its vaccine was 92 percent effective based on 20 infections in its large trial. Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at the research charity Wellcome, suggests not only are there pragmatic hurdles in delivering effective vaccines to everyone across the globe, but actually getting people to take the vaccine could prove unexpectedly hard.

This was because, he said, "What you have to also remember is the scale - if we're looking at vaccinating even 50 per cent of India's population against Covid-19 with a vaccine like this, the available infrastructure to store polio vaccines will not be enough".

The federal government, under the Operation Warp Speed initiative, has committed about $2.5 billion to Moderna to support its vaccine research and testing and to buy at least 100 million doses of the vaccine.

The study's design called for the independent committee to conduct the first interim analysis of efficacy when 53 people came down with symptomatic Covid-19.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Eleven of the 95 cases were of severe infection, and all of them were in the placebo group.

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The 95 cases of COVID-19 included several key groups who are at increased risk for severe disease, including 15 cases in adults aged 65 and older and 20 in participants from racially diverse groups.

The two drug-makers said they could have as many as 70 million vaccine treatments ready in 2020 with the FDA's emergency approval.

Moderna's president Stephen Hoge welcomed the "really important milestone" but said what was most reassuring was having similar results from two different companies.

The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain after the vaccine's second dose, at rates that Hoge characterized as more common than with flu shots but on par with others such as shingles vaccine.

Pfizer's vaccine must be shipped and stored at -70C, the sort of temperature typical of an Antarctic winter.

Countries such as China and Russian Federation have already begun vaccinations.

"We continue to receive encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines and remain cautiously optimistic about the potential for new tools to start to arrive in the coming months", World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press briefing.

Moderna, part of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed program, 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. The contract gives the US government an option to purchase an additional 400 million doses.

Federal health officials cautioned Monday that despite the positive data for the vaccines, the limited initial supply also means that Americans should continue to take precautions against the coronavirus, such as wearing masks and washing hands.

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