Moderna vaccine proves '94pc effective' in big trial - RTHK
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Moderna vaccine proves '94pc effective' in big trial

2020-11-16 HKT 20:50
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  • Moderna followed Pfizer in beating expectations in its late-stage vaccine trial. File image: Reuters
    Moderna followed Pfizer in beating expectations in its late-stage vaccine trial. File image: Reuters
Moderna's experimental vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second US drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.

Together with Pfizer's vaccine, which is also more than 90 percent effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.

Next year, the US government could have access to more than 1 billion doses just from the two vaccine makers, more than needed for the country's 330 million residents.

The vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million.

The news also comes at time when Covid-19 cases are soaring, hitting new records in the United States and pushing some European countries back into lockdowns.

"We are going to have a vaccine that can stop Covid-19," Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a telephone interview.

Moderna's interim analysis was based on 95 infections among trial participants who received either a placebo or the vaccine. Of those, only five infections occurred in those who received the vaccine, which is administered in two shots 28 days apart.

"This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months," said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

"This latest press release is based on a study of 30,000 U.S. adults, including many high-risk or elderly persons. This gives us confidence that the results are relevant in the people who are most at risk of Covid-19."

Moderna expects to have enough safety data required for US authorisation in the next week or so and the company expects to file for emergency use authorisation (EUA) in the coming weeks.

The company's shares rose 9.1 percent in premarket trading and European stocks and Wall Street stock futures jumped on the vaccine update. The benchmark S&P 500 futures rose 1.3 percent, stopping just short of a fresh record high, while the pan-European STOXX 600 hit late-February highs.

A key advantage of Moderna's vaccine is that it does not need ultra-cold storage like Pfizer's, making it easier to distribute. (Reuters)