KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Moderna announced that its Covid-19 vaccine was almost 95 per cent effective, according to interim results, and it can be stored at standard refrigeration temperature.
The US biotech firm announced these positive results one week after the interim results of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germanpartner BioNTech showed 90 per cent effectiveness in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infection.
The Guardian reported Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, as saying that the Moderna vaccine trials included vulnerable people such as high-risk and elderly people and claimed that the vaccine would protect them.
Moderna conducted its interim analysis based on the first 95 patients with Covid-19 infection and revealed that the vaccine had an efficacy of 94.5 per cent. The analysis showed 90 of those 95 Covid-19 patients had received the placebo, with the remaining five getting the vaccine.
“This has been incredible teamwork. I think none of us probably thought that we could get to this place in the last 10 months,” Stephane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, was quoted as saying.
Moderna stated that almost 42 per cent of participants were older or had other diseases like diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure. This group of people can be affected severely if they are infected with Covid-19.
Moderna’s vaccine is suitable for long-term storage and shipping, where it can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius for six months. It can also be kept at between two and eight degrees Celsius, which is standard refrigeration temperature, for 30 days.
This is different from Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which requires storage of between minus 70 and minus 80 degrees Celsius, from production until it can be used by patients.
The storage ability of Moderna’s vaccine is considered a huge advantage, although it is more expensive than other frontrunner Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Moderna’s vaccine costs £38 to £45, or RM206.31 to RM244.32, for a course of two shots. This is more than six times higher than the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University priced at £3 per dose.
The price of Moderna’s vaccine is slightly higher than Pfizer, as the latter is charging £30 for a two-shot course.
Moderna stated that it will produce one billion doses by the end of next year, whereas Pfizer and BioNTech will produce 50 million vaccine doses for their vaccine this year, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
So far, Moderna has included 30,000 volunteers in their Phase 3 trial. Its Covid-19 vaccine is expected to not be available outside the US until 2021.
“We should not let the accomplishment of an effective vaccine have us feel we can let our guard down. In fact, it should be an incentive to double down as we then ultimately have the synergy between a vaccine and a public health measure which will get us out of the very difficult situation,” Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was quoted saying.
Apart from the US, other countries like Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Qatar and Israel have also signed agreements with Moderna.
The injection of mRNA, a genetic material, has shown some side effects, such as injection site pain, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, other pains, or redness at the injection site.