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Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine is nearly 95% effective

Moderna said Monday that its coronavirus vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective in fighting the virus, per an initial analysis released by the company.

Why it matters: The Moderna vaccine — alongside Pfizer's similarly effective candidate — provides another dash of hope that the pandemic currently raging across the world could be tamed by next year.

The state of play: Moderna's study, done in collaboration with the National Institute of Health, looked at 30,000 participants — with half receiving a placebo.

In 95 cases of COVID-19 that developed among participants, 90 were taking the placebo. Of the 11 people who contracted "severe" COVID-19 infections, all were taking a placebo. Moderna reports there are no significant safety concerns so far.

The company also said that the vaccine could be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to a month — compared to Pfizer's vaccine candidate, which requires ultra-cold conditions. What they're saying: "It’s extremely good news. If you look at the data, the numbers speak for themselves," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, per the Washington Post.

"I describe myself as a realist, but I’m fundamentally a cautious optimist. I felt we’d likely get something less than this. … I said certainly a 90-plus-percent effective vaccine is possible, but I wasn’t counting on it."

The big picture: The Moderna vaccine was part of the federal government's Operation Warp Speed acceleration project, and the company received about $2.5 billion to back its research and development.

Pfizer, on the other hand, funded its own vaccine research but did commit to an Operation Warp Speed deal to speed potential distribution.

Worth noting: Like Pfizer's announcement last week, Moderna's details on its vaccine candidate came in the form of a press release.

The data has not been peer-reviewed and its effectiveness could change as the study progresses, but Moderna says they plan to submit to a peer-reviewed publication when the study is complete.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that his company had avoided such specificity about effectiveness given that the numbers could continue changing as its trial continues.

Nov 16, 2020


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