A new coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna showed nearly 95% protection against Covid-19.
Early data results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.
Pfizer and Moderna used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines.
Moderna says it is a “great day” and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks.
However, this is still early data and key questions remain unanswered.
The trial involved 30,000 people in the US with half being given two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The rest had dummy injections.
The analysis was based on the first 95 to develop Covid-19 symptoms.
Only five of the Covid cases were in people given the vaccine, 90 were in those given the dummy treatment. The company says the vaccine is protecting 94.5% of people.
The data also shows there were 11 cases of severe Covid in the trial, but none happened in people who were immunized.
Moderna says it will apply to regulators in the US in the coming weeks. It expects to have 20 million doses available in the country.
The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries too.
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.
It is not known whether the vaccine just stops people becoming severely ill, or if it stops them spreading the virus too.
All these questions will affect how a coronavirus vaccine is used.
No significant safety concerns have been reported, but nothing, including paracetamol, is 100% safe.
Short lived fatigue, headache and pain were reported after the injection in some patients.
Both vaccines use the same approach of injecting part of the virus’s genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.
The preliminary data we have seen so far is very similar – around 90% protection for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and around 95% for Moderna’s.
However, both trials are still taking place and the final numbers could change.
Moderna’s vaccine appears to be easier to store as it remains stable at minus 20C for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.
Pfizer’s vaccine needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75C, but it can be kept in the fridge for five days.
The Sputnik V vaccine, developed in Russia, has also released very early data which suggests it is 92% effective.