Moderna reports preliminary trial data: COVID-19 vaccine is more than 94% effective

Positive news regarding COVID-19 vaccine candidate received again this month, as Moderna reports that its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc announced its own COVID-19 vaccine receiving similar results — news that puts both companies in process to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US. The most reassuring aspect of this news is that two companies are having similar results.

A vaccine is the need of the hour, as virus cases topped 11 million in the US over the weekend — 1 million of them recorded in just the past week. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, more than 245,000 of them in the US. If the Food and Drug Administration permits emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidates, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Both require people to get two shots, several weeks apart.


Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, produced for the US, by the end of 2020. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have about 50 million doses globally by year’s end. Moderna’s vaccine is currently being studied in 30,000 candidates, who received either the real vaccine or the dummy shot, and a total of 95 infections were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose —all but five illnesses were discovered in participants who got the placebo. Moderna said Monday its vaccine remains stable at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a standard home or medical refrigerator, for up to 30 days. It can be stored for up to six months at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine requires a storage temperature of negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moderna has also acknowledged that the protection rate might vary as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection will last. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well. The main side effects were fatigue, muscle aches and injection-site pain after the vaccine’s second dose, at rates that Hoge characterized as more common than with flu shots but similar to ones such as shingles vaccine.

Both Moderna’s shots and the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate employ the so-called mRNA brand-new technology. They aren’t made with the coronavirus itself, instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to respond and react to the spiked protein on the surface of the virus. The high percentage positive turnout of the results was a pleasant surprise, as scientists have already warned for months that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as flu vaccines, which are about 50 per cent effective.