Moderna Inc announced on Monday that its experimental vaccine was 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
The company’s interim data analysis was based on 95 infections among trial volunteers who received either a placebo or the vaccine.
Only five infections occurred in those who received the vaccine, which is administered in two shots 28 days apart.
Moderna made the announcement following a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second U.S. company in a week, after Pfizer, to report results that have exceeded expectations.
Multiple reports quoted Moderna President Stephen Hoge as saying in a telephone interview: “We are going to have a vaccine that can stop COVID-19.”
Last week, Pfizer Inc announced that its own experimental vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
Pending regulatory review of more data, the United States could have two vaccines authorized for emergency use in December.
It is believed that as many as 60 million doses of the vaccines could be available by the end of the year, and more than a billion doses by next year, enough to vaccinate everyone in the United States.
The two vaccines were built using a new technology known as RNA or mRNA.
A solid advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is it will be easier to distribute since it does not need ultra-cold storage like Pfizer’s.
Moderna said it expects it to be stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (37 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days. It can also be stored for up to 6 months at minus 20 degrees Celsius, while Pfizer’s vaccine must be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, the extreme cold typical of an Antarctic winter. At standard refrigerator temperatures, it can be stored for up to five days.
Both vaccines come at a time more than a million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the United States, with more than 1 million new cases reported in the past seven days alone.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected more than 54 million people and killed 1.3 million. At least 240,000 of those killed are in the United States alone, the worst death toll in the world.
With cold weather now, the respiratory disease has pushed some European countries back into lockdowns, while new restrictions have also been reimposed in some states in the U.S.
The data from Moderna’s 30,000 volunteer-strong trial also showed that its vaccine prevented cases of severe COVID-19. Of the 95 cases of Moderna’s trial, 11 were severe and 11 occurred among volunteers who got the placebo.
Moderna is part of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program. The company expects to produce around 20 million doses of the vaccine for the United States this year.
Millions of doses have already been made and are ready to ship pending the Food and Drug Administration authorization.