U.S. biotech company Moderna reported positive results from the first interim analysis of its Covid mRNA vaccine candidate. The IA found that of the 95 identified Covid cases in the study population 90 occurred in the placebo group, thus yielding a vaccine efficacy of 1 – 5/90 = 94,4%. (Note: this is not a higher efficacy than Pfizer, who simply reported 90% efficacy as a cutoff while the point estimate is 97%).
All 11 detected severe Covid cases were in the placebo group which would support the hypothesis that while the vaccine may not provide 100% protection against infection, it at least wards off severe symptoms. However, further data is needed to validate this claim.
The safety profile of the vaccine is similar to Pfizer with around 10% of participants reporting moderate to severe forms of muscle pain, joint pain, headache and other pains. The side effects would be classified as strong enough to warrant at least one sick day for those experiencing them. Just as with Pfizer/BioNTech the vaccine requires two shots 28 days apart with immunity being confirmed 14 days after the second shot.
Moderna additionally published an update to the vaccine’s stability in storage and confirms that their shot will remain viable in normal freezing storage (-20°C) for up to six months, 30 days in a standard fridge and 12 hours at room temperature – a significant advantage over Pfizer/BioNTech.
Moderna will deliver its first batch of 20 million doses to the U.S. in 2020. It is working with production partner Lonza to supply 0.5-1 billion doses in 2021, of which 80 million are earmarked for EU delivery, raising the total number of EU citizens to be vaccinated with proven vaccines by 2021 to 140 million (~30%).
Prognoses are no reliable indicator for future performance.