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US firm Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective

November 16, 2020

Moderna said that Phase 3 stage analysis suggested its coronavirus vaccine could prevent COVID-19. The news comes a week after Pfizer and German drug-maker BioNTech announced a vaccine of their own.

Stock photo of a vaccine in viles
Image: Schott

US pharmaceutical firm Moderna announced on Monday that early analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine suggested it was as much as 94.5% effective.

"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," said Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO. 

The news comes a week after Pfizer and their German partners BioNTech announced that their vaccine had reached 90% effectiveness. Russian researchers claimed similar success for its Sputnik V vaccine later that same day.

"Vaccines rely on observing natural infection in the community," epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding told DW. "And then you can make conclusions. Infections are soaring across the world, and that actually allows you to see the effects much quicker."

Coronavirus cases topped 11 million in the US over the weekend, with 1 million recorded in just the past week.  

The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the U.S. 

Moderna said it was confident it would receive emergency approval for its vaccine from US authorities in December. 

Higher storage temperature 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on a new platform called messenger RNA, which is faster to produce than traditional vaccines. 

Moderna's vaccine was co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health and consists of two doses 28 days apart.  

The company announced that its vaccine can remain stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days. Pfizer's vaccine, on the other hand, needs to be stored in deep-freezer conditions which could complicate supply chain logistics.

EU: more vaccines coming 

The European Commission said on Monday that Moderna’s announcement was encouraging and that the bloc was working to secure more supply deals with vaccine makers. 

"More encouraging news from #COVID19 vaccine trials w/@moderna," EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter. 

"Signing contract w/ @pfizer & @BioNTech_Group later this week, more to come soon," Kyriakides added. 

The EU has been in talks with Moderna for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine at least since July, according to an internal EU document, Reuters reported. 

jcg/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)