In the space of a week, we now have two mRNA Covid vaccines with greater than 90% reported efficacy from two leading vaccine candidates, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Pfizer had announced that an analysis of its vaccine trial suggested that the vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among trial volunteers.
This announcement cemented its lead in the global race for a vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic that began in January.
Coming hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer-BioNTech, is the new vaccine from American biotech firm Moderna, co-developed with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose early data shows that its protection against Covid-19 has slightly one-upped Pfizer-BioNTech’s with almost 95% efficacy.
Vaccine experts have cheered the news of multiple successful vaccines. Dr. Stephen Hoge, President, Moderna Inc., welcomed the really important milestone but noted that having similar results from two different companies was what was most reassuring.
“It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines to meet the global demand”, Dr.Hoge said.
Both leading vaccines use the same promising, never-before-approved mRNA technology to activate the body’s immune system and while the two vaccines appear to have very similar safety and efficacy profiles, Moderna’s vaccine has a significant practical advantage over Pfizer’s with regards to simpler temperature requirements for distribution.
Pfizer’s vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around -75 degrees Celsius while Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at -20 degrees Celsius. According to Dr. Tal Zacks, Chief Medical Officer, Moderna Inc., what this means is that Moderna’s vaccine can be kept in “a readily available freezer that is available in most doctors’ offices and pharmacies”.
Moderna expects to have about 20 million doses, earmarked for the U.S., by the end of 2020 and up to one billion doses available for use around the world in 2021. Pfizer-BioNTech expects to have about 50 million doses available globally by the end of the year, with 1.3 billion available in 2021.
Both results are, by all accounts, deemed highly impressive for inoculations developed at historic speed. The success of these vaccines surely gives the world, a window of hope against the grim backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people.