By Ricky Browne
Hope for an to the coronavirus pandemic grew further today, with the news that a second American company is on the verge of releasing an effective vaccine.
US bio-technology company Moderna says that its new anti-Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective, according to early trial data from its Phase 3 study of 30,000 people from a wide cross section of US society.
The news comes a week after US company Pfizer announced its own success with a vaccine that is said to be 90 percent effective.
Both Moderna and Pfizer use a similar technique using mRNA technology to battle the virus, which creates more hope for the overall effectiveness of both vaccines.
The development was “a crucial milestone” said Moderna President Dr Stephen Hoge adding “an incredibly exciting moment for us and the world”
Moderna is based in the university town of Cambridge, near Boston in Massachusetts. The company focusses on drug discovery, drug development, and vaccine technologies based exclusively on messenger RNA molecules — which it considers to be the “the software of life”.
The company plans to apply for Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks. Moderna will also soon be applying for authorization from global regulatory agencies.
“It exceede our best hopes,” he said.
“We have a lot of work to do, but its a great moment to have,” he said.
“I didn’t expect, I don’t think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94% effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, that was really a stunning realisation,” Hoge told BBC News.
There are currently 48 vaccines in development globally, with 11 in the final stage of testing, known as Phase 3.
While the UK is still hoping for its own home-grown vaccine, the more vaccines the merrier, as its unlikely that any one vaccine will be capable of treating all aspects of the disease. Some vaccines will work better than others for some sections of the population.
Nor is it yet known how long the vaccines will last, or their effects on older people — so there is room for improvement with new vaccines.
The vaccine is likely to cost between US$32 and US$37S per dose.
The company is in discussions with the UK government, and hopes to be able to supply the country with vaccines by Spring 2021. The vaccine is not one of the six that were already pre-ordered by Britain.
Later in the day it was Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the UK has ordered 5 million doses of the vaccine, due by Spring.
The company as already signed deals with several countries. These include the United States (100 million doses with an option for an additional 400 million doses); Japan (50 million doses); Canada (20 million doses with an option for an additional 36 million doses); Switzerland; Israel and Qatar.
The company is also currently in advanced discussions with the European Union for 80 to 160 million doses.
In total, the company hopes to have a billion doses of its vaccine ready for global use in 2022.
Meanwhile the pandemic continues to ravage the world’s population., with more than 50,000 people in the UK dying from the disease.
Of those who have had it and survived, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may feel particularly hard done by, as he is now back in isolation having been in contact with someone who had the disease.
He was “pinged”by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate when it turned out that Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who he met with at 10 Downing Street on Thursday, had caught the disease.
“Hi folks, I’ve been instructed by our NHS Test & Trace scheme to self-isolate for two weeks, after being in contact with someone with Covid-19. I’m in good health and have no symptoms, and will continue to lead on our response to the virus & our plans to #BuildBackBetter,” the Prime minister tweeted earlier today.
As the UK tries to finalise a trade deal with the European Union, it doesn’t really come at the best time for the Prime minister the nation. Fortunately, the Prime Minister says he fees as “fit as a butcher’s dog” and he’s “bursting with antibodies” thanks to having the disease earlier.