Coronavirus in Scotland: Second Covid-19 vaccine is over 90% effective in trials
A second Covid-19 vaccine candidate has reported very high efficacy levels in trials, just days after an announcement of success from Pfizer and BioNTech.
The vaccine being developed by US firm Moderna has shown 94.5 per cent effectiveness.
Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said the finding was “pivotal”.
“This positive interim analysis from our phase three study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent Covid-19 disease, including severe disease,” he said.
Like the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna's candidate is a Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which uses the virus’s genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself, and as such has the potential to be quicker to produce on a large scale.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at minus 80 degrees Celcius, the Moderna candidate can remain stable at between two and eight degrees.
The UK has not placed an order for the vaccine, but a spokesperson said the UK Government is in discussions with Moderna to “ensure UK access”.
However this would not be until spring 2021 at the earliest.
"The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine,” they said.
“As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the Government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
“Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.”
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.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the announcement was “more good news on the vaccine front” in her daily briefing on Monday, and added that it is is “in the mix” of UK Government vaccine supply.
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.
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.
Unlike Pfizer, Moderna included older adults in their clinical trial.
The 95 cases included 15 older adults – aged 65 and over. This included 20 people who were not white – 12 from Hispanic or Latino backgrounds, four African Americans, three Asian Americans and one who was multiracial.
The 94.5 per cent efficacy from this analysis could drop as further results from the clinical trial are announced.
Mr Bancel said: “This is a pivotal moment in the development of our Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
“Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible.
“All along, we have known that each day matters.
“This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent Covis-19 disease, including severe disease.”