After Pfizer, Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine 94.5 per cent effective

A staff member sets up a production line at Lonza, where part of the Moderna mRNA coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine will be produced, in Visp, Switzerland, October 6, 2020. (KEYSTONE/Olivier Maire)

Moderna has announced that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate has been 94.5 per cent effective, based on early results from its phase 3 trial. 

The US biotech firm’s interim analysis was based on 95 patients with confirmed cases of Covid-19. In the trial, 90 were in the placebo group and five received the vaccine.

It now plans to apply to the US regulator, the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorisation in the coming weeks, based on the “final analysis” of an expected 151 cases to complete the trial. In Switzerland, an application for evaluation has already been submitted to SwissMedic this week.

Why this is significant. These results are the latest promising news to emerge, after similar results from Pfizer and BioNTech's candidate (also a messenger RNA vaccine) and Russia's Sputnik V candidate (adenovirus vector vaccine). 

These, together with several other global trials being conducted, are boosting hopes that the world will have vaccines available to face the pandemic. However, there are still many hurdles. Key elements of safety and efficacy among the elderly will not be known until the release of the final results due within a few weeks. 

Storage and logistics also remain to be key issues. According to the company, Moderna's vaccine has a shelf life of 30 days at -2 to -6°C and of 6 months at -20°C, while Pfizer's vaccine needs to be refrigerated at -70°C.

Moderna expects to have approximately 20 million doses of its vaccine ready to ship in the US by the end of the year and said it remains on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021. 


Last month, Tal Zaks, chief medical officer of Moderna, explained to Geneva Solutions how their vaccine works. Read the in-depth interview here.