Moderna COVID-19 vaccine nearly 95 percent effective in trial, firm says

Moderna said its experimental coronavirus vaccine was nearly 95 percent effective in a pivotal study, adding to hopes that an inoculation for the deadly virus could be available soon.

The biotech firm’s Monday announcement made it the second major vaccine candidate to reveal promising early data from a late-stage clinical trial, just a week after Pfizer and BioNTech said their shot was more than 90 percent effective.

The results from the Phase 3 study also indicated Moderna’s vaccine can help ward off severe cases of the virus, a key development as the US grapples with a record-setting surge in infections and hospitalizations.

The so-called interim analysis “has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement, calling the results a “pivotal moment” in the vaccine’s development.

The announcement sent Moderna’s stock price soaring more than 12 percent in premarket trading to $100.33 as of 7:19 a.m.

Massachusetts-based Moderna said it will ask the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of the shot “in the coming weeks” after it collects more data on the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. Pfizer has similarly said it could seek an emergency use authorization by the end of the month.

Moderna released the results after an independent safety board examined data from 95 participants in the 30,000-person study who contracted COVID-19. Just five of those 95 patients had received both doses of the vaccine before catching the virus, while the other 90 had gotten a placebo, the company said.

Eleven of those sick participants developed severe cases of coronavirus, but none had received the vaccine, a sign that the shot is effective at preventing serious infections, according to the company.

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines use messenger RNA, manufactured genetic material that’s injected into cells to provoke an immune response in the body. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said last week that he expected the shots would have similar effectiveness because they were “identical in many respects.”

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