SEVERE WX : Frost Advisory View Alerts

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to company data

The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company, making it the second vaccine in the Unite...

Posted: Nov 16, 2020 10:11 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2020 5:27 PM

The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.

'These are obviously very exciting results,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor. 'It's just as good as it gets -- 94.5% is truly outstanding.'

Moderna heard its results on a call Sunday afternoon with members of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, an independent panel analyzing Moderna's clinical trial data.

'It was one of the greatest moments in my life and my career. It is absolutely amazing to be able to develop this vaccine and see the ability to prevent symptomatic disease with such high efficacy,' said Dr. Tal Zacks, Moderna's chief medical officer.

Vaccinations could begin in the second half of December, Fauci said. Vaccinations are expected to begin with high-risk groups and to be available for the rest of the population next spring.

Unexpectedly high efficacy rates

Last week, Pfizer announced that early data show its vaccine is more than 90% effective against the disease.

In Moderna's trial, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo, which is a shot of saline that has no effect. Over several months, 90 of them developed Covid-19, with 11 developing severe forms of the disease.

Another 15,000 participants were given the vaccine, and only five of them developed Covid-19. None of the five became severely ill.

The company says its vaccine did not have any serious side effects. A small percentage of those who received it experienced symptoms such as body aches and headaches.

Moderna plans to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization of its vaccine soon after it accumulates more safety data later this month.

Fauci says he expects the first Covid-19 vaccinations to begin 'towards the latter part of December, rather than the early part of December.'

Initially, there won't be enough vaccine for everyone. The highest priority groups, which include health care workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions, will get the vaccine first.

'I think that everybody else will start to get vaccinated towards the end of April,' Fauci said. 'And that will go into May, June, July. It will take a couple of months to do.'

A new vaccine technology

Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines have similar results because they use the same technique to activate the body's immune system.

The vaccines deliver messenger RNA, or mRNA, which is a genetic recipe for making the spikes that sit atop the coronavirus. Once injected, the body's immune system makes antibodies to the spikes. If a vaccinated person is later exposed to the coronavirus, those antibodies should stand at the ready to attack the virus.

No vaccine currently on the market uses mRNA.

'There has always been skepticism about mRNA -- it's brand new and would it work?' Fauci said. 'What we saw in the trials is there was no real safety concern, and the efficacy is quite impressive. We saw nearly identical results [with Pfizer and Moderna] and it almost really validates the mRNA platform.'

Research on mRNA began many years before the current pandemic. Fauci's agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has collaborated with Moderna on the development of its vaccine.

Both vaccines are given in two doses several weeks apart.

Practical advantages of Moderna's vaccine

While the two vaccines appear to have very similar safety and efficacy profiles, Moderna's vaccine has a significant practical advantage over Pfizer's.

Pfizer's vaccine has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius. No other vaccine in the US needs to be kept that cold, and doctors' offices and pharmacies do not have freezers that go that low.

Moderna's vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius. Other vaccines, such as the one against chickenpox, need to be kept at that temperature.

That means Moderna's vaccine can be kept in 'a readily available freezer that is available in most doctors' offices and pharmacies,' Zacks said. 'We leverage infrastructure that already exists for other marketed vaccines.'

Another advantage of Moderna's vaccine is that it can be kept for 30 days in the refrigerator, the company announced Monday. Pfizer's vaccine can last only five days in the refrigerator.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2081823

Reported Deaths: 52903
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings27705910311
Queens2739399845
Suffolk1992823378
Nassau1821393161
Bronx1811606529
New York1367244447
Westchester1287632266
Erie882281775
Richmond739351809
Monroe665071069
Orange47808810
Rockland46626955
Onondaga37973671
Dutchess29137444
Albany24406350
Oneida22222505
Niagara19656358
Broome18328357
Saratoga15090166
Ulster13747251
Schenectady12972199
Rensselaer11089140
Putnam1053491
Chautauqua8788140
Chemung7533135
Oswego741590
Ontario728992
Steuben6762143
Sullivan653772
St. Lawrence649396
Cayuga619792
Jefferson590366
Wayne563667
Cattaraugus557487
Genesee5340123
Herkimer5099107
Clinton478933
Madison446588
Livingston435858
Fulton432991
Tompkins423051
Montgomery4195123
Columbia4001101
Cortland375060
Tioga367962
Warren358057
Wyoming350452
Allegany341784
Chenango339776
Otsego339547
Greene336075
Washington307555
Orleans304883
Lewis268734
Franklin251712
Delaware231737
Seneca197956
Schoharie166016
Essex157526
Yates116826
Schuyler102814
Hamilton3072
Unassigned12350
Out of NY0237
Utica
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 72°
Oneonta
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 66°
Herkimer
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 72°
Old Forge
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 72°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve