Another candidate has entered the race for a first working coronavirus vaccine. According to initial analyses by American company Moderna, a new vaccine can be 95% effective against coronavirus. Reportedly, phase 3 trials of Moderna vaccine revealed impressive results. The biotech company has planned to apply to the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) for authorizing this new vaccine for emergency use.
Moderna is the second company to report successful preliminary data after Pfizer. Both candidates have offered hope in curbing the pandemic that has infected more than 54.4 million people globally and killed more than 1.32 million.
How Moderna Vaccine Performed In The Trial?
The trial involved 30,000 participants in America to analyze how safe and effective the vaccine is. Participants were divided into two groups; one group received the actual vaccine while the other one got placebo injections of saltwater.
The company found total 95 infection; 5 were in the group that received vaccine while 90 infections were in a group that received fake treatment. The data also showed that there were 11 severe cases of coronavirus among the group with fake injections.
Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla has congratulated Moderna for achieving spectacular results in the trials.
Are There Any Side-Effects of Moderna Vaccine?
Moderna also did a safety review of collected data and claimed that it found no significant concerns. Most reactions have been mild to moderate and short-term. The most prominent side-effects included pain on the injection site in 2.7% of participants after the first shot. After the second injection, 9.7% participants reported fatigue, 9% reported muscle pain and 5% said joint pain. Some others issues found were body aches, headaches, or irritation at the injection site.
When Will It Be Available?
After applying to US regulators in next few weeks, Moderna has expected to make 20 million doses available in the country before the end of 2020. It agreed to provide 100 million doses to the US. It is also planning to seek approval for providing in other countries as well. It said that up to 1 billion doses will be available for foreign countries by next year.
The UK government has already ordered six candidates whenever they become available. However, it is still negotiating to add Moderna Vaccine. Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, and Qatar has signed the agreements with the biotech company.
How Is It Different Than Pfizer Vaccine?
Both vaccines involve injecting a part of coronavirus’s genetic code (mRNA strand) in order to provoke response from immune system. However, it is argued that Moderna’s candidate could provide a major advantage over its competitor.
Pfizer vaccine requires freezing temperature between -70C and -80C from production to retail. On the other hand, Moderna claimed that its vaccine is more stable and provide longer shelf life because it can be stored at standard refrigeration temperature between 2C and 8C (for 30 days). For shipping and long-term storage, it can be stored at -20C for 6 months.
How It Can Be Used?
It injects mRNA, the virus’s genetic code into the human body. Cells use this strand to make spike protein, which virus uses to enter cells. Then it activates the immune system to produce anti-bodies to keep fighting the coronavirus.
It also activates T-cells to destroy infected cells. The may get COVID after the process but anti-bodies and T-cells are trained to fight the virus.
What Will Be The Cost?
As Moderna reported highly successful results, it is also the most expensive COVID vaccine candidate introduced so far. Reportedly, the charges will be between 32 to 37 USD per dose. It is slightly expensive then Pfizer, who offered the two-shot course for 39 USD.
Other challengers in the vaccine race have offered significantly lower rates: Oxford University and AstraZeneca are aiming to sell their vaccine for only 3.95 USD a dose. Johnson and Johnson will also charge between 3 to 4 USD. Sanofi and GSK’s vaccine is expected to be sold around 12 USD per dose.
Hope Amid The Pandemic
Multiple news of coronavirus vaccines in a span on one week has raised hope among the public. Besides Pfizer and Moderna, Russia has also confirmed the potency of its vaccine, which was criticized before for not conducting proper trials. The preliminary results by all frontrunners has exceeded all expectations. Many experts were hoping to get a vaccine even if its 50% effective but the results have been impressive. However, it is not sure whether immunity will last for a long time.
There is not enough data whether any vaccine protects old people who are more vulnerable to die from COVID-19. It is also not clear if the vaccine just stops the coronavirus from making severe damage or stops it from spreading entirely.
A lot of questions like these still need to be answered.