• Moderna's vaccine was found to be 94.5% effective against coronavirus, in a large study.
  • The study was based on 95 cases of COVID-19, with a group including 15 adults aged 65 or over, and 20 participants from diverse communities.
  • The experimental vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks.


Moderna Inc became the second U.S company to release data from a large study of its experimental vaccine, saying it was 94.5% effective against COVID-19.

Moderna covid-19 coronavirus vaccine health trial study
Moderna, which went public in 2018, has received nearly $1 billion in research and development funding.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - RC2VZJ9ELV8D

It will seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once it has more safety data, expected later this month.

Its first analysis was based on 95 cases of COVID-19, 90 of which received a placebo with 5 receiving the vaccine. There were 11 severe cases in the placebo group and none among those that got the vaccine.

The 95 cases included 15 adults aged 65 or over, and 20 participants from diverse communities including 12 people who identified as Hispanic, 4 Black Americans, 3 Asian Americans and 1 person who was multiracial.

The results come one week after Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective based on initial data.

Moderna, which went public in 2018, has received nearly $1 billion in research and development funding from the U.S. government and has a deal worth $1.5 billion to supply 100 million doses. The U.S. government has an option for another 400 million doses and Moderna also has supply deals with other countries.

Below are more details on Moderna’s vaccine:

Type

- The experimental vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine also uses mRNA technology.

- Other firms developing COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA technology include Germany’s Curevac and U.S. biotech firm Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc.

- An authorized, safe and effective mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 would be a first for the technology, which has previously not been used for an approved vaccine or drug.

Regulatory and production timeline

- The United Kingdom’s health regulator started a real-time review of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in October. The European Medicines Agency, Canada and Switzerland have also begun rolling reviews.

- Moderna expects to be able to produce 20 million doses by the end of the year, and between 500 million and 1 billion in 2021.

Trials

- The company was among the first to conduct COVID-19 vaccine human trials, starting in March and its late-stage 30,000 participant testing began on July 27 in the United States. It finished enrolling participants in October.

- The company slowed enrollment in September to increase the diversity of the trial population. It ultimately enrolled 3,000 Black American participants and more than 6,000 participants who are Hispanic.

- The vaccine candidate is being tested at about 89 clinical research sites in the United States.

- Moderna’s U.S. trial was the first under the government’s Operation Warp Speed program and is funded by Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.