Moderna Inc. said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate met its primary endpoint in a Phase 3 trial, demonstrating 94.5% efficacy, a far higher rate than originally expected, sparking a broad-based market rally. The news was shared in a release and has not yet been published as a preprint or in a peer-reviewed medical journal. It comes a week after Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine candidate had achieved 90% efficacy in a similar late-stage trial, news that also sent the broad market, and pandemic-decimated sectors notably, sharply higher.
It comes as the U.S. continues to set records for new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations and as health-care systems in states including the Dakotas and Wisconsin are close to full hospital capacity. The U.S. leads the world by case numbers at 11 million and deaths at 246,224, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. In each case, it is about a fifth of the global tally.
Russia Focuses on Freeze-Dried Vaccine Doses as Transport Fix
Russia expects to produce primarily freeze-dried Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine doses by the spring, a top official said, eliminating the need for transport at ultra-low temperatures as part of an ambitious plan to inoculate its population. Vaccine developers globally are scrambling to work out how to ship and store their vials, some of which must be kept in specialized freezers at extremely low temperatures. The logistical challenge was brought into sharp focus after promising interim trial data for the vaccine developed by BioNTech] and Pfizer a major breakthrough in the race to curb the pandemic.
This vaccine needs to be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, equivalent to an Antarctic winter, posing a challenge for even the most sophisticated hospitals in the United States. It also puts it out of reach for the moment for many poor countries. Transportation is a pressing issue for Russia, which has many extremely remote settlements and has already begun rolling out a programme of mass inoculation of frontline medical workers across the country, though human trials of Sputnik V are not yet complete.