Coronavirus vaccine latest update: Moderna announced its experimental vaccine against COVID-19 almost 95% effective, marking it to be the first one in the quest to end the pandemic. This is the second good news this month after the announcement of Pfizer & BioNTech who announced 90 percent effectiveness of their vaccine. Moderna is now expected to apply for emergency authorization from the US FDA by the end of November
Moderna’s corona vaccine update: an overview
Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine is co-developed by a biotechnology company – Moderna, Inc (Cambridge, Massachusetts.US) & the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
It works by incorporating coronavirus’s genetic code into the human body. This leads to the generation of viral proteins, but not the whole virus, which is enough to train the immune system to attack. This would teach the body to make COVID-19 antibodies and develop another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus. This is one of the novel techniques of inserting RNA into human cells.
What analysis has revealed so far?
Moderna conducted a clinical trial involving 30,000 people in the US with half being given two doses of the coronavirus vaccine in a four-week gap & the rest had dummy injections. The analysis was based on the result of the first 95 volunteers to develop COVID-19 symptoms.
What was observed, was only five people tested positive for COVID-19 had been given the covid vaccine. The rest 90 were in those given the dummy treatment. The company thus concluded that the coronavirus vaccine 94.5% effective.
It also gave news of relief by confirming that there are no significant safety concerns. The basic side effects after administration of the covid 19 vaccine included short-lived fatigue, headache and pain.
Researchers are still studying the longevity of immunity for the volunteers who were administered the vaccine.
Does Moderna’s covid vaccine have a better shot at being approved than competitor Pfizer’s?
The preliminary data show very similar protection data which is around 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and around 95% for Moderna vaccine. Since both the vaccines have the same mechanism of injecting part of the virus’s genetic code in order to provoke an immune response, we will have to wait for the final numbers in terms of safety & efficacy.
However, logistically Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20’C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month. On the contrary, Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75’C & it needs to be kept in the fridge for five days before administration. This gives an additional operational edge to Moderna over the Pfizer vaccine.
What does this mean for India?
The Indian government is in negotiation terms with both domestic and international vaccine makers such as Moderna, Pfizer, Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila for their Covid-19 vaccine.
Few Indian institutions such as Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals (IIL) are all geared up for a manufacturing collaboration with Moderna. The Indian government has also kept this possibility open with Moderna. They have also requested for direct purchase of the coronavirus vaccine and later internal distribution.
Where will the covid vaccine go first?
Global demand for covid 19 vaccines is expected to far exceed supplies despite significant efforts to increase the production ahead of time. Moderna has already signed a deal to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. and 80 million to the European Union. Other countries such as U.K & India are still in the negotiating phase.
This news from Moderna is very exciting & boosts optimism among people. This coronavirus vaccine news has definitely brought back hope in people across the world. But as responsible citizens, let’s aim to follow other precautionary measures till this vaccine finally comes to the market.