Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld raised his arm on Monday, July 27, 2020 during a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine at Meridian Clinical Research in Rockville, Maryland by Dr. Disinfect Chao Wang. The coronavirus vaccine was developed by the biopharmaceutical company Moderna.
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Shares in the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company rose more than 4% Thursday, a day after it was announced that it had enough data from its 30,000-person study to begin preliminary analysis.
Moderna assumes that at least 53 people in the study contracted the virus. This is the minimum number that an independent data security monitoring body needs to review and measure how well the vaccine is working on those who have received it.
“Moderna has seen a significant increase in the case identification rate in various locations over the past week,” the company said on Wednesday. About half of the participants have or will be given a placebo. Moderna said it did not know which patients received the vaccine or the placebo.
Moderna told investors on October 29th that it was “actively” preparing for its potential vaccine launch worldwide, having completed registration for its 30,000-person study a week earlier. It is said that around 37% of the participants were from minority groups and 42% had other medical conditions or age groups that put them at high risk for serious illness. Men outweigh the number of women in the study by 53% to 47%.
Investors believe that Moderna’s vaccine will be highly effective especially afterwards Pfizer, another frontrunner in Covid-19 vaccine, said on Monday that The vaccine was 90% effectiveAccording to Brad Loncar, biotech investor and chief executive officer at Loncar Investments. Moderna’s product, like that of the PfizeBioNTech Partnership leverages messenger RNA or mRNA technology, a new approach to vaccines that uses genetic material to trigger an immune response.
Pfizer’s vaccine news is definitely a good sign for Moderna, Loncar said.
Loncar said he doesn’t expect Moderna shares to decline if the vaccine’s effectiveness is slightly less than Pfizer’s. Moderna already has supply deals and the world will need multiple vaccines to slow the pandemic. “It will still go up when the number is really close [to Pfizer’s], he said. “But if it’s a lot lower then I think it could be a problem.”
The Food and Drug Administration announced that it would approve a vaccine that is safe and at least 50% effective.
Pfizer said Monday its analysis rated 94 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the study’s 43,538 participants. Pfizer said the split of the case between those vaccinated and those who received a placebo indicated a vaccination efficacy rate of over 90% seven days after the company’s second two-dose vaccine.
“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most, as infection rates are breaking new records, hospitals are on the verge of overcapacity, and economies are struggling to reopen,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, on Monday.
It is not known how many infections are rated in Moderna’s interim analysis. And while Moderna may herald the vaccine’s overall effectiveness, the public will likely have to wait for other important details, such as the vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly or people with pre-existing medical conditions, said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the vaccine education center at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.
Pfizers was “just a press release,” Offit said. “They don’t really know what the data is,” he said, adding that the public doesn’t know exactly what grade of disease was prevented with Pfizer’s vaccine and may not know until the vaccine has been used on millions of people.
Security data will also be crucial, he said. The FDA has stated that after vaccination of volunteers, drug manufacturers must provide at least two months of safety data before asking the agency to consider granting emergency approval.
Earlier this year, participants in Moderna and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine studies announced CNBC had a high fever, body aches, severe headache, and days of exhaustion and other symptoms after receiving the recordings. However, in interviews, all five participants – three in Moderna’s study and two in Pfizers – said it was worth protecting yourself from the coronavirus. Other participants said they did not experience any side effects, but it is not known whether they received the vaccine or a placebo.
Loncar also said he would be on the lookout for information on how well the vaccine makes T cells, which scientists expect to play a role in long-term immunity to the virus. Data so far suggests Pfizer’s vaccine elicits a stronger T-cell response than Moderna’s candidate, he said. “That always made people a little nervous.”