Moderna says its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19

Moderna says its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19

(Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second U.S. company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.

Of 95 people in the study who developed Covid-19 with symptoms so far, 90 had received a placebo and only five Moderna’s vaccine, the company said Monday. The findings move the vaccine closer to wide use, because they indicate it is effective at preventing disease that causes symptoms, including severe cases.

The vaccine also showed signs of being safe, though researchers and regulators must wait for more-complete safety data from the study, expected later in November. Moderna said it plans to ask federal health authorities by early December to clear the vaccine. Federal officials said Friday that doses could become available that month.

That could make Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine one of the first to go into distribution in the U.S., where reported coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging.

“We may be in a place with a vaccine that has a big impact on the prevention of severe disease,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said in an interview. “That will be an incredible win against this awful virus.

Following are some reactions to the news.

WALID GELLAD, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

"Now we know that the vaccine appears to be highly effective. It also seems like we really need the vaccine right now, because we have no coherent national strategy. And the next two months are looking dismal. So there, there has to be some willingness for uncertainty and flexibility in times of crisis... FDA can safely schedule this committee sometime soon.

"If you look at the state of the pandemic right now, and the exponential rise and the stress on the healthcare system, and the assumption that that's going to get worse, the rising cases in nursing home, the Thanksgiving holiday, and later Christmas holiday and other holidays, all of that is an environment, that it's just going to add fuel to the fire... with the rate things are moving and the holidays, actually two or three weeks, I think makes a big difference right now."

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, THE TOP U.S. INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, SAID ON A CALL WITH REPORTERS:

"The vaccine is really the light at the end of the tunnel."

Fauci urged Americans not to let their guard down because of this news, but to continue washing hands, avoiding crowds and being vigilant about social distancing.

ZOLTAN KIS, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT THE FUTURE VACCINE MANUFACTURING HUB, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON

“If mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 gain regulatory approval, this will be a huge validation of the RNA vaccine production platform technology. Using this technology, vaccine candidates can be produced substantially faster in the future.”