The Covid-19 vaccine being developed by US biotech firm Moderna has been found to be 95% effective, with no significant safety concerns identified.
The UK Government has today secured a deal to procure five million doses of the Moderna vaccine after earlier announcing it was in ‘advanced discussions’ with the company.
Based on the phase 3 trial findings, which included 30,000 trial participants, the company is intending to apply for regulatory approval in the US as well as ‘global regulatory agencies’ within the coming weeks.
The news comes a week after Pfizer announced its vaccine candidate was ‘90%’ effective in phase 3 trials.
Moderna’s announcement said: ‘This first interim analysis was based on 95 cases, of which 90 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 5 cases observed in the mRNA-1273 group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 94.5% (p <0.0001).
‘A secondary endpoint analysed severe cases of Covid-19 and included 11 severe cases (as defined in the study protocol) in this first interim analysis. All 11 cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the mRNA-1273 vaccinated group.’
The Moderna vaccine trial did not result in ‘any significant safety concerns’, the announcement added, with ‘adverse events’ including short-lived redness at the injections site, fatigue and headaches in some study participants.
The RNA vaccine comes in two doses, with no more than 10% of trial participants experiencing side-effects after either dose.
Moderna’s vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer, at -20C, for up to six months, and, once thawed, is able to be held for 30 days in standard fridge, at 2-8C.
The news comes as UK GPs have been asked to prepare to deliver an unprecedented Covid vaccination campaign via an enhanced service. This could start as early as next month if the vaccines being developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and/or Oxford/AstraZeneca gain MHRA approval in time.
Professor Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said Moderna’s news was ‘tremendously exciting’ and ‘considerably boosts optimism that we will have a choice of good vaccines in the next few months’.
Speaking in this evening’s coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock said the UK has today secured five million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which are expected to be ready in the spring.
The UK Government has invested £230m into the developments of vaccines and has pre-ordered:
- 100 million doses of University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – phase 3 clinical trials
- 40 million doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine – phase 3 clinical trials
- 60 million doses of Novavax vaccine – phase 3 clinical trials
- 60 million doses of Valneva vaccine – pre-clinical trials
- 60 million doses of GSK/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine – phase 1 clinical trials
- 30 million doses of Janssen vaccine – phase 2 clinical trials
Earlier today, the Government spokesperson said: ‘The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine. As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the Government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
‘Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.
‘To date, the UK government has secured early access to 350 million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers. This includes 40 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which is based on the same platform as Moderna’s vaccine and if approved by the medicines regulator, is expected to begin delivery as early as December 2020.’