Moderna Inc’s MRNA.O experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second U.S. drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.
Together with Pfizer Inc’s PFE.N vaccine, which is also more than 90% effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorized for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.
The vaccines, both developed with a 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.
Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s shot can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, which should make it easier to distribute, a critical factor as 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 the vaccine or a placebo. Only five infections occurred in volunteers who received the vaccine mRNA-1273, which is administered in two shots 28 days apart.
“The vaccine is really the light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert said. He urged Americans not to let their guard down and to continue washing hands and being vigilant about social distancing.
Even with fast authorization, the vaccines will not come in time for most people celebrating the U.S. Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays, when families and friends come together – just the types of gatherings public health officials warn against.
Moderna expects to have enough safety data required for U.S. authorization in the next week or so and expects to file for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the coming weeks.