A new vaccine that offers nearly 95 per cent protection against Covid-19 could arrive in the UK as early as next spring, the government has said.
Data from US company Moderna shows that the jab appears to be 94.5 per cent effective against the disease, and comes following similar results from pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.
Does the vaccine work?
Interim data has suggested that the vaccine is highly effective in preventing people from getting ill with Covid-19 and may work across all age groups, including the elderly.
Moderna’s final stage clinical trial is currently still ongoing and includes more than 30,000 people in the US. Half of participants were given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart, while the rest were given placebo injections.
The analysis was based on 95 participants with confirmed cases of Covid-19, 90 of which had received the placebo and five the active vaccine.
The data also shows that there were 11 cases of severe coronavirus in the trial, but these were all in the placebo group. No severe occured in those who had received the vaccine.
Moderna said its available data does not indicate any significant safety concerns and the vaccine is effective in protecting 94.5 per cent of people. However, the efficacy from this analysis could drop as further results from the clinical trial are announced.
Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said that the data suggesting it can stop severe Covid-19, combined with the news of the Pfizer vaccine, means that it is a “terrific tool for stopping the pandemic and hopefully stopping the worst of the disease that people are facing.”
Speaking to BBC News, he explained, “When you combine it with the news of last week of Pfizer’s vaccine, you’ve got now two vaccines that are over 90 per cent effective.
“It really means I think we have the tools necessary to finally beat this virus back and I think that’s probably the best news of the day for all of us, is that there really are now solutions in our hands and we need to deliver them to the people who can use them.”
When will it be available?
Moderna intends to submit an application for an emergency use authorisation with the US Food and Drug Administration shortly, and will submit further data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. It expects to have 20 million doses available in the country.
The UK government is currently still negotiating with Moderna, as their vaccine is not one of the six that have already been ordered. The vaccine is not expected to be available before spring next year, at the earliest.
At the end of October, Moderna announced that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had started the rolling review process of its vaccine. This means the MHRA will review data as it becomes available from ongoing studies, with the ability to, at some point, say whether the vaccine should be licensed in the UK.
The UK has already secured 40 million doses of a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which uses the same technology as Moderna.
A government spokesman 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.”
Scientists said the news of the Moderna vaccine bodes well for other Covid-19 inoculations, with the results of trials from Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca due to be reported in the coming days or weeks.