By Mukwuzi Joseph
The race for a coronavirus vaccine has received another shot in the arm with the US biotech firm Moderna becoming the latest to reveal impressive results from phase 3 trials of its jab.
An interim analysis released on Monday, and based on 95 patients with confirmed Covid infections, found the candidate vaccine has an efficacy of 94.5%. The company said it now plans to apply to the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, for emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks. In the analysis, 90 of the patients received the placebo with the remaining five the vaccine.
The results are the latest encouraging news to emerge from the breakneck effort to develop a vaccine against coronavirus and follow a similar interim analysis earlier this month from a collaboration between Pfizer and the German firm BioTech , which suggest its vaccine is 90% effective at preventing illness.
The Moderna vaccine, which is being trialled in more than 30,000 volunteers, is not expected to be available outside the US until next year. The biotech said it would have 20 million doses ready to ship in the US before the end of 2020 and hoped to manufacture 500 million to one billion doses globally next year.
So far, the UK does not stand to benefit from the vaccine. Moderna has agreed to provide the US with 100 million doses, with an option to buy 400 million more. Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Qatar and Israel have also signed agreements, and the European Commission has a “potential purchase agreement” for 80 to 160 million doses. The UK chose not to participate in the EU vaccine purchase scheme, with Matt Hancock arguing in July that the government could source vaccine faster on its own.