Things are looking up for 2021 as a new coronavirus breakthrough has been recorded with a vaccine by Moderna that is even more effective than the one proposed by Pfizer and BioNtech… Unfortunately, the UK hasn’t bought any of this one yet.
Moderna has released some early results from the final testing stage which shows their vaccine to be 94.5% effective. That’s a whole 4.5% higher efficacy rate compared to the Pfizer vaccine which made the headlines just last week.
The results showed that out of 95 people who had taken the vaccine only five had contracted the virus as opposed to 90 who did not.
The study consisted of around 30,000 people overall with each receiving two doses of either the vaccine or the placebo.
Nobody in the vaccinated group contracted coronavirus on a serious level whereas 11 of those who were given a placebo for comparative purposes.
Unfortunately, Britain has not managed to sneak any early access to the Moderna vaccine meaning it won’t be used even for emergency purchases until next year. However, they may have the chance to purchase some of the 500,000-1 billion doses lined up for 2021.
The government has already stated that it is ‘in talks’ with the company in order to gain access to the vaccine in the spring of next year. A government spokesperson stated today:
The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine. 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.
To date, the UK government has secured early access to 350million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers. This includes 40m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine, which is based on the same platform as Moderna's vaccine and if approved by the medicines regulator, is expected to begin delivery as early as December 2020.
The US government has already jumped on the breakthrough and secured 100 million doses of the new jab for $1.5 billion.
The EU currently has an ‘unsigned deal’ with Moderna for 160 million doses while Canada, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and Qatar have also lined up for a number of vaccines from the company who is also in talks with many other countries.
Moderna is expected to manufacture 20 million doses before the end of the year with each vaccine costing £11.57 ($15.25) per dose which is just a little cheaper than the Pfizer vaccine which is set to cost £14.79 ($19.50) per jab.
Moderna’s vaccine has also been suspected to be easier to transport and distribute as it can easily be stored in the fridge for up to a month, whereas the Pfizer vaccine requires specialist equipment made to hold extra cold temperature not offered by normal freezers.
Scientists have hailed the breakthrough as ‘tremendously exciting’ but the trial has yet to conclude and will continue until the 151 people have been infected with the virus. This means that the effectiveness of the vaccine may change by the end of the year, but probably not by much.
Moderna has revealed that they will be applying for FDA approval in the coming weeks and the MHRA, the food and drug administration in effect through the UK, is currently reviewing the vaccine.
Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading spoke to the MailOnline:
Yet another set of vaccine data with 90 per cent plus protection. The poor antibody response seen in some natural Covid infections clearly does not apply to purposeful vaccination, which in turn means we can be confident about pushing the pandemic back as and when vaccine rollout occurs.
For the Moderna vaccine, the logistics of the process may also be helped by their stability data which shows a less strict cold chain requirement than some. With three trials having been reported and no major safety issues identified the vaccination program can now focus on deployment and access to vaccines for all who need them.
The Moderna vaccine is the second to make headlines in the last week following the vaccine created by Pfizer and their partner BioNtech.
The UK has already ordered over 40 million doses of the jab which will be rolled out to the public over the new year and is set to be released for emergency use by next month.
So, despite vaccines being on the fast approach it is still absolutely necessary to keep up our coronavirus protection measures. That means always wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distancing and remembering to wash our hands frequently.