Moderna’s Early Vaccine Results
After Pfizer reached 90% effectiveness in their own clinical trial results, the expectations for whichever vaccine’s released data was next was extremely high. Moderna’s vaccine blew those expectations out of the water, with the company reporting that their vaccine is 94.5% effective. In the 30,000 volunteer trial, an independent monitoring board reviewed a selection of 95 of those volunteers. What was discovered was that all infections (save for five) were from patients who had been given the placebo drug instead of the actual vaccine, suggesting strong levels of protection from the vaccine itself. Considering the bar for FDA approval for COVID-19 vaccines is 50% effectiveness, being in the mid-90s for early results is beyond promising. Other findings from the review were that there were no major side effects besides muscle aches, fatigue, and pain at the injection site. All of this information has been extremely positive and would be enough for distribution from Moderna in the near future. By the end of next week, the company expects to have enough safety data to apply for emergency use approval by the FDA. If Moderna does in fact file within the next few weeks, that will put two different vaccines one major step closer to distribution.
Moderna vs. Pfizer Vaccine
While both vaccines have some similar qualities, some stark differences could very much change how distribution plays out. Each vaccine is considered an mRNA vaccine, which works slightly differently than previous vaccines available in the market for other illnesses. Instead of using dead or weakened versions of the virus in the vaccine itself, the vaccines instead have a genetic code that helps immune systems recognize the spike protein on the surface of the virus and targets it to neutralize and fight it. Both Pfizer and Moderna work similarly because of this; however, the major differences between the two will be more revealing when it comes to distribution.
While both require to be transported and stored in cold temperatures, Pfizer’s vaccines require significantly more care, with the doses needing to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius — arctic tundra levels of temperature. Pfizer’s vaccines can be stable for around five days in standard refrigeration or up to 15 days in a thermal shipping box. In contrast, Moderna’s vaccine only requires -20 degrees Celsius for six months of stable storage and can be in regular refrigeration for up to 30 days while still remaining stable for use. Another major difference between the two is that while Pfizer has hundreds of thousands of doses ready to be distributed, Moderna has millions. Due to major funding by the United States government through Operation Warp Speed, Moderna has had a significant advantage in production up to this point. Moderna and the United States have a $1.5 billion deal for 100 million doses, 20 million of which could be ready by the end of the year. The United States also has an option in the deal for 400 million more. Officials from the federal government have expectations for 20 million Moderna doses and 20 million Pfizer doses by the end of the year for distribution, giving hope that return to normalcy comes sooner rather than later.
The addition of a second vaccine that is equally effective, has more available doses, and is easier to store and distribute is precisely the news the world needed given the dire circumstances experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hopes of a second vaccine and a hopefully quick path to distribution rallied the stock market and could lead to an economic recovery as powerful as the global recovery from the pandemic.
About the Author
Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.