FOR the second time in as many weeks, there is promising news from the race for a Covid-19 vaccine as infections surge across the United States and Europe.
US biotech firm Moderna said on Monday its experimental vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second US company in a week to report results that far exceed expectations.
Reacting to the news Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at London’s Imperial College said, ‘This news from Moderna is tremendously exciting and considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months.
‘This latest press release is based on a study of 30,000 US adults, including many high-risk or elderly persons. This gives us confidence that the results are relevant in the people who are most at risk of Covid-19 and in most need of the vaccines.
‘Moderna have also announced that the vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer (-20 degrees Celsius) for up to 6 months, and that once thawed the vaccine can be kept for up to 30 days at standard refrigerator (2 to 8 degrees centigrade). This makes the vaccine much easier to deliver.
‘In terms of side effects, news is also quite good. The first dose caused injection site pain in in about 3 percent of people; the second dose was associated with transient generalized symptoms in about 10 percent of people with fatigue, muscle aches and flu like symptoms. This seems to indicate that they got the dose about right with acceptable adverse events. These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response.
‘We need more complete details than we have in this press release, but this announcement adds to the general feeling of optimism about vaccines for Covid-19. What we still don’t know is how long any protective immunity may last. For that, we will need to wait.’
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