'Tremendously exciting' new coronavirus vaccine is MORE effective than Pfizer’s

A new coronavirus vaccine developed in the US is 94.5 per cent effective, an initial study has shown.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 12:53 pm

British scientists have hailed the latest breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19 by US firm Moderna as ‘tremendously exciting’, with the success rate being the highest yet claimed for any vaccine.

Interim data from Moderna suggests its vaccine is highly effective in preventing people getting ill and also works across all age groups, including the elderly.

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A volunteer is injected with a syringe containing either the vaccine or a placebo (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK has not placed an order for the vaccine – which works in a similar way to Pfizer’s – and it is unclear whether the British Government can get any stock.

But scientists said the news bodes well for other Covid-19 vaccines, with the one for Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca due to report in the coming days or weeks.

Moderna intends to submit an application for an Emergency Use Authorisation with the US Food and Drug Administration shortly and will submit further data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.

Moderna's initial findings suggest the coronavirus vaccine it is developing is up to 94.5 per cent effective at stopping people getting Covid-19 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The firm’s final-stage clinical trial is ongoing and includes more than 30,000 people in the US.

The interim analysis included 95 participants with confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 90 had received the placebo and five the active vaccine.

The 95 cases included 15 people aged 65 and over and 11 severe cases, with all the severe cases occurring in the placebo group.

Moderna said its available safety data does not indicate any significant safety concerns, with mild side-effects following the injection including fatigue, muscle pain and headaches generally being short-lived.

The 94.5 per cent efficacy from this analysis could drop as further results from the clinical trial are announced.

Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, described the latest findings as ‘a pivotal moment’ in the development of its vaccine.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started a rolling review of Moderna’s vaccine and will say whether it should be licensed in the UK.

The announcement comes one week after Pfizer/BioNTech released interim study data suggesting their vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said: “This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months.

“First we heard 90% efficacy from Pfizer and BioNTech, then the Russians said 92% and now Moderna says 94.5%.

“This latest press release is based on a study of 30,000 US adults, including many high-risk or elderly persons.

“This gives us confidence that the results are relevant in the people who are most at risk of Covid-19 and in most need of the vaccines.

“Moderna have also announced that the vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer (-20C) for up to six months, and that once thawed the vaccine can be kept for up to 30 days at standard refrigerator (2 to 8C). This makes the vaccine much easier to deliver.”

Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “This announcement from Moderna is a further encouragement that vaccines will be found to not only have an acceptable efficacy, but an efficacy that is much greater than we had anticipated.”