Biotech company Moderna announced Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective, according to preliminary trial data. It’s the second announcement of a promising vaccine candidate this month, after Pfizer said last week that its own vaccine was more than 90% effective in trials. Both vaccines use mRNA, meaning that they use a string of genetic code rather than the coronavirus itself to prompt an immune response.
The studies are continuing and it’s not clear yet how long any vaccine protection may last, but the results raised hopes that multiple vaccines will be available on a limited basis before the end of the year and more widely available by April, helping to meet U.S. and global demand. The news also raised hopes that the pandemic, which has now seen more than 11 million cases in the United States, could be brought under control next year.
“Once we get these vaccines in sufficient qualities heading in 2021, the combination of the fact that a lot of the population will have already had Covid, combined with the fact that we’ll be vaccinating the public with a highly effective vaccine, we could effectively end this pandemic in 2021,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC.
Moderna was part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development program. It received nearly $1 billion from the U.S. government to support its Covid vaccine research.