Posted: Monday, November 16, 2020. 2:54 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is “nearly 95 percent effective”, according to data from the company quoted by the BBC, boosting confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.
Previously, Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine showed similar results.
Moderna has developed an “RNA vaccine” – it means part of the coronavirus’s genetic code is injected into the body.
This starts making viral proteins, but not the whole virus, which is enough to train the immune system to attack.
It should train the body to make both antibodies – and another part of the immune system called T-cells to fight the coronavirus.
Moderna says they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks. It expects to have 20 million doses available in the U.S. and up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year pending approval in other countries.
The UK government is still negotiating with Moderna as their vaccine is not one of the six already ordered. It says Moderna’s will not be available before spring next year.
The UK has outlined plans that prioritize the oldest people for immunization.
The BBC says, “We still do not know how long immunity will last as volunteers will have to be followed for much longer before that can be answered. There are hints it offers some protection in older age groups, who are most at risk of dying from Covid, but there is not full data… And it is not known whether the vaccine just stops people becoming severely ill, or if it stops them spreading the virus too.”
As for safety, given that absolutely nothing in the way of medication is 100 percent safe, there was short-lived fatigue, headache, and pain were reported after the injection in some patients.
“These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response,” said Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London.
So is this the beginning of the end? While the news is good from a scientific and social perspective, there is now the matter of actually vaccinating potentially billions of people around the world. Some experts have claimed normality by spring, others by next winter, others still think there is a long journey ahead. The answer will depend on how quickly countries can get this “hope in a vial” into the arms of people.
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