Second vaccine against virus shows surprising success in US trials.
AP: A second experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one from Moderna Inc., returned remarkably strong initial results on Monday, another much-needed dose of hope as the pandemic enters a terrible new phase.
Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from an ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced that its own vaccine appeared to be 90% effective, news prompting both companies to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US.
The results are “really amazing,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert. “The vaccines we’re talking about, and the vaccines to come, are really the light at the end of the day. tunnel”.
A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. Over the weekend, 1 million of them were registered last week alone, and governors and mayors are increasing restrictions. before Thanksgiving. The outbreak has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 246,000 of them in the United States.
Stocks rose on Wall Street and around the world on growing hopes that the global economy could begin to return to normal in the coming months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 470 points, or 1.6%, to close at a record high of more than 29,950. Moderna’s shares rose nearly 10%.
Both vaccines require two injections, given several weeks apart. US officials said they expect to have about 20 million doses of Moderna and another 20 million of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech to use by the end of December.
Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge welcomed the “really important milestone” but said that having similar results from two different companies is the most reassuring.
“That should give us all hope that a vaccine can actually stop this pandemic and hopefully bring us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press. He added: “Modern will not be the only one who solves this problem. It will take a lot of vaccines ”to meet global demand.
If the Food and Drug Administration allows emergency use of Moderna or the Pfizer candidate, there will be limited rationed supplies before the end of the year.
Exactly who is first in line has not yet been decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses will be available by the end of January to vaccinate adults 65 and older, who are at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus, and workers in health. Fauci said it can be until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a vaccine can get it.
Neal Browning of Bothell, Wash., Who rolled up his sleeves in March for the first trial of the Moderna vaccine in humans, said he’s excited about Monday’s “great news” but still wears a mask carefully and takes other precautions.
“I am very happy to be a part of this and to try to help bring some kind of peace back to the world,” said Browning. “I have a lot of hope.”
The National Institutes of Health helped create the vaccine Moderna is making, and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said the parallel results from the two companies give scientists “a lot of confidence that we are on the way. towards having effective vaccines. ”
But “we’re also in this really dark time,” he warned, saying that people can’t let their guard down during the months it will take the doses of any FDA-approved vaccine to start reaching a large portion of the population.
Moderna’s vaccine is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received the real vaccine or a sham injection. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded after the volunteers’ second injection. Only five of the illnesses occurred in people who received the vaccine.
Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective.
The study continues and Moderna acknowledged that the rate of protection could change as more COVID-19 infections are detected. Also, it is too early to know how long the protection lasts. Both of these precautions apply to the Pfizer vaccine as well.