Moderna announced Monday morning that a preliminary analysis of its coronavirus vaccine candidate showed it was 94.5 percent effective at preventing illness, including severe cases. The announcement comes one week after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced their vaccine was over 90 percent effective, meaning there are now two vaccine candidates with very high levels of efficacy in interim analyses of clinical trial data The Moderna vaccine is similar to the one from Pfizer/BionNTech, in that both are developed using mRNA instead of a live virus. The method is experimental, but experts said the fact that two separate candidates had results of over 90 percent efficacy is a cause for optimism. “The light at the end of the tunnel just got even brighter,” tweeted Atul Gawande, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, in reaction to Moderna’s announcement. “We may now have multiple, very effective vaccines distributing widely in spring and summer. Now we must pull together to get everyone we can through that tunnel alive and with jobs intact.” Leg up: Moderna’s vaccine is slightly more effective than Pfizer’s, plus the data shared shows it also prevents severe illness, which is unknown about Pfizer. Most of all, storage and distribution ought to be easier because the vaccine doesn’t need the ultra cold storage that the Pfizer/BioNTech one requires. The hard part: The coming months are still likely to be brutal, before the vaccine is widely available, as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise heading into winter. Widespread vaccination likely won’t be available until 2021, although initial doses may be injected into high priority groups as early as next month. Biden has emphasized this point in multiple speeches, making it clear that public health measures like wearing masks and keeping physically distant are the best tools available
President-elect Joe Biden warned Monday that “more people may die” from COVID-19 if the Trump administration does not begin to engage in a smooth transition of power.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden told reporters following a speech on his economic plan in Wilmington, Del., emphasizing the pressing need for his transition team to gain access to the Trump administration’s plan for distributing a future vaccine for the coronavirus.
“A vaccine is important. It’s of little use until you are vaccinated. So how do we get the vaccine, how do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What is the game plan? It is a huge, huge, huge undertaking to get it done,” Biden said.
“If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. And so, it’s important that it be done, that there be coordination now. Now or as rapidly as we can get that done,” he continued.
Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, also said Sunday that “it would be better” if government health experts could begin engaging with Biden’s team.