For the second time in a week, a pharmaceutical giant has revealed promising news about a possible COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna, an American biotech company, says early analysis of its phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial shows it is 94.5% effective at preventing the virus.
This comes about a week after Pfizer revealed its vaccine appears to be 90% effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19 among people who have not been previously infected with the disease.
Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, said it is a “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.
“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press. "It won't be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It's going to require many vaccines" to meet global demand.
The company based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, says vaccinations could begin in December and that health care workers, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions will have priority.
Moderna says its phase 3 trial involved more than 30,000 participants in the US including people over 65 who were deemed high risk as well as participants identifying as “being from diverse communities.” Half were given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The rest had dummy injections. The analysis was based on the first 95 to develop Covid-19 symptoms.
The company says its vaccine “did not have any serious side effects,” and a small percentage of those who received the trial shot experienced “body aches and headaches.”
The results arrive at a moment when the pandemic’s grip is tightening. Quebec reported 1,448 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day number of new cases in the province since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued a warning on Friday that if Canada continues its current trajectory, we could see 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by early December.
While the results are preliminary, both Moderna and Pfizer are expected to seek emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if a further study shows their vaccines are safe.