A new vaccine that protects against COVID-19 is nearly 95% effective, early data from US company Moderna shows.
The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, another American company that released a 90% effective vaccine last week, and adds to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.
Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.
Moderna says it is a “great day” and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.
However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.
How good is it?
“The overall effectiveness has been remarkable… it’s a great day,” Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna, told BBC News.
Dr. Stephen Hoge, the company’s president, said he “grinned ear to ear for a minute” when the results came in.
He told BBC News: “I don’t think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94.5% effective at preventing Covid-19 disease that was really a stunning realization.”
When will we get it?
The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.
Each person is supposed to take two shots of the vaccine. Thus only half a billions possibly get the vaccine next year.
How does it work?
Moderna has developed an “RNA vaccine” – it means part of the coronavirus’s genetic code is injected into the body.
This starts making viral proteins, but not the whole virus, which is enough to train the immune system to attack.
It should train the body to make both antibodies – and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus.
Only 5 patients of those given the vaccine came back positive, indicating the vaccine’s high efficacy.