With the already staggering coronavirus case and death toll expected to climb further in the US following Thanksgiving, there’s at least more good news on the vaccine front. The biotech firm Moderna released the final results of its 30,000-person vaccine trial in a press release Monday, reporting a 94.1 percent rate of efficacy. The finding squares with the 94.5 percent efficacy rate the company reported two weeks ago, based on its first interim analysis of trial data.
Of the 196 Covid-19 cases in the trial, 185 were in the placebo group and only 11 in the vaccine group, Moderna reported.
Even more important, the vaccine — called mRNA-1273 — appears to protect against severe disease, not just asymptomatic or mild cases. Of the 30 severe Covid-19 cases among trial participants, all occurred in the placebo group. If the finding is real, it would likely mean averted deaths and hospitalizations when millions of people are immunized.
“You’ve got 100 percent protection against severe disease,” Paul Offit, an infectious disease and vaccine researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Vox. “That’s remarkable.”
“If these numbers are right, it’s more than we’d need for the vaccine to be a major control measure for this outbreak,” said Eric Rubin, an infectious disease specialist and the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Given that the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus vaccine research groups have also put out promising findings recently, this latest announcement of final data from the Moderna trial reaffirms that the world will likely have several highly effective vaccines for Covid-19 — and the end of the pandemic may be on the horizon. High efficacy also means that fewer people would need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity, the threshold at which the virus can no longer spread easily from person to person.
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