BOSTON (CBS) – Cambridge-based Moderna announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective, based on early data. They join Pfizer as the second company to recently announce promising news about its coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer reported last week that its vaccine was more than 90% effective.

In the phase 3 clinical trial of Moderna’s vaccine, 30,000 participants were vaccinated, half with the 2-dose vaccine, half with a placebo, in essence salt water. During the study period, a total of 95 people got the coronavirus. 90 of them had received the placebo and only 5 of them had received the vaccine, hence the nearly 95% effectiveness.

The vaccine not only helped prevent infection but also seemed to protect against severe disease.

Rearchers found that none of the people who got infected who had received the vaccine got really sick. Whereas 11 of the people infected who got the placebo got severe COVID-19.

Here are some questions to consider going forward:

What about side effects?

There were no severe side effects reported. Some people developed fatigue or achiness but nothing concerning.

How much should the public trust these results?

Like with the early Pfizer results, this data was analyzed by an independent panel of scientists appointed by the NIH, not by the company itself. Moderna was just notified of the results Sunday afternoon and, as you can imagine, the company was very pleased with the news.

Moderna’s vaccine could be easier to store than the Pfizer vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at extremely low temperatures, on the order minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the Moderna vaccine is more stable at higher temperatures, making storage and distribution much easier.

When will the Moderna vaccine be available to the public?

They need to continue to collect data on the vaccine’s safety but, like Pfizer, will likely file with the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization in the next few weeks. If that is granted, it could start to be administered to high-risk groups like health care workers and the elderly as early as December. It probably won’t be available to the general public until the Spring of 2021.

They expect to ship 20 million doses in the U.S. by the end of the year and up to a billion doses worldwide in 2021.

Each person would need two doses, one month apart.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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