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Moderna Joins Pfizer in Also Developing a Working Vaccine

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Moderna Joins Pfizer in Also Developing a Working Vaccine

2020-11-17 17:23:34

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Stock vaccine image (Image source: Public domain)

It's good news and good news on the vaccine front. The country was elated last week to learn that Pfizer's vaccine candidate did well in its trials with a 90 percent efficacy. It was a relief to many. This week Moderna has announced that it, too, has a successful vaccine, yet it's been proven to be 94.5 percent effective.

Moderna is basing its data on a clinical study with 30,000 volunteers. Half of those in the study received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days. Ninety-five of the participants came down with COVID-19, but only five of them had received the vaccine.

"This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate," said Stephane Bancel, Moderna CEO, in a statement. "Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters."

Moderna plans to apply for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration "in the coming weeks." First, it needs to obtain final safety and efficacy data that will include two months of safety data on participants.

The company also reports that there are not "any significant safety concerns" up to this point. The reactions to the vaccine that have been recorded up to this point include such things as muscle pain and fatigue.

Perhaps most importantly, Moderna shared that the data so far shows that its vaccine can prevent severe illness. Only 11 severe cases of COVID-19 showed up in the trial data, and all of those were in the group who received the placebo.

Of great importance is that both Moderna and Pfizer have effective vaccines. Initially, there won't be enough of one vaccine to treat the entire country, so to have two viable vaccines means more people will be treated with one vaccine or the other.

Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the United States by the end of the year. Pfizer expects to have a similar number of doses. Moderna said it would produce 500 million to 1 billion doses throughout the world in 2021.

The Trump administration has contracts with both Moderna and Pfizer for 100 million doses of each vaccine, with options to purchase more. Additionally, Moderna received $955 million from the government's "Operation Warp Speed" for the development of the vaccine. Pfizer did not receive that same funding.

High-priority groups, including health-care workers, older individuals, and those with health issues that put them at risk, could start receiving the vaccine in December. The general public would be able to get the vaccine in the spring, according to experts. 

There are still many issues ahead, as states and local communities have said they do not have the resources to staff a distribution effort or provide storage or delivery.

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