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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 27, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: COVID-19 vaccine shows success in U.S. tests

A second COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be effective in preventing illness following the contraction of the virus.

Moderna Inc., a biotech company, said Nov. 15 that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing the disease, according to a review of its clinical trial. Moderna announced this less than a week after its competitors Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech said their vaccines were more than 90% effective, according to NPR.

Moderna said that it will apply to regulators in the United States in the near future and expects to have 20 million doses available for those in the U.S., according to BBC. As of August, Moderna says that it will charge between $32 to $37 per dose for its vaccine.

The effectiveness of Moderna’s vaccine was assessed using interim analyses of large clinical studies. The Moderna study consisted of 30,000 volunteers. Half of the participants received two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart, and the other half got two doses of a placebo, according to NPR. The results from the study indicate that the vaccine appears to create an immune response that protects people if exposed to the coronavirus.

“This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel to Fox News.

Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use the same approach to make their vaccines. The vaccines utilize the molecule mRNA. For the vaccine, researchers created mRNA that caused the production of coronavirus spike protein. This protein can trigger someone’s immune system to make antibodies that will attack the coronavirus to prevent it from causing infection. 

The need for a vaccine is becoming increasingly important as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. reached over 11 million cases. Among those cases, 1 million were recorded in the last week, according to the Associated Press. More than 1.3 million people worldwide have died because of the pandemic.

Moderna’s president Stephen Hoge said that having similar results from two different companies is reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told AP.

John Turner can be reached at jturner3@ithaca.edu