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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shows 94.1% efficacy in trial: Study

The study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that among over 30,000 participants randomised to receive the vaccine or a placebo, 11 in the vaccine group developed symptomatic COVID-19 compared to 185 participants who received the placebo.

December 31, 2020 / 01:15 PM IST
Source: Reuters

Source: Reuters

Results from the primary analysis of the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial of US biotechnology company Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine have revealed 94.1 per cent efficacy of the therapeutic in preventing symptomatic infections and severe illness, according to a peer-reviewed study.

The study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that among over 30,000 participants randomised to receive the vaccine or a placebo, 11 in the vaccine group developed symptomatic COVID-19 compared to 185 participants who received the placebo.

The researchers said this demonstrates 94.1 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, adding that cases of severe disease occurred only in participants who received the placebo.

"Our work continues. Over the next months, we'll have increasing amounts of data to better define how this vaccine works, but the results so far show a 94.1 per cent efficacy. These numbers are compelling," said Lindsey Baden, an infectious diseases specialist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in the US where the trial took place.

"And, importantly, the data suggest protection from severe illness, indicating that the vaccine could have an impact on preventing hospitalisations and deaths, at least in the first several months post-vaccination," said Baden, co-principal investigator for the study, and lead author of the paper.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The study enrolled 30,420 adult participants at 99 sites in the US, including over 600 participants enrolled at the Brigham.

Eligible participants were 18 years old or more with no known history of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and whose locations or circumstances put them at appreciable risk of the infection and high risk of severe COVID-19, the researchers said.

They noted that the race and ethnicity proportion of the trial was 79 per cent white, 10 per cent Black or African American, and 20 per cent Hispanic or Latino participants.

The participants received their first injection between July 27 and October 23, followed by a second shot 28 days later.

Each jab, given intramuscularly, had a volume of 0.5 millilitres (mL), containing 100 micrograms (g) of mRNA-1273 vaccine or saline placebo.

In the placebo group, 185 participants developed symptomatic COVID-19 illness whereas in the vaccine group, only 11 participants did.

In secondary analyses, the vaccine's efficacy was similar across groups of key interest, including those who already had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at the time of enrolment, and among those who were 65 years of age or older, the researchers said.

Thirty participants had severe COVID-19 -- all in the placebo group, they said. They were closely monitored for adverse events in the weeks following their injection.

The researchers said overall, reactions to the vaccine were mild -- about half of recipients experienced fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain and headaches, more so after the second dose.

Baden said while these results are encouraging, they are limited by the short duration of follow-up so far.

"Longer term data from the ongoing study may allow us to more carefully evaluate the vaccine's efficacy among different groups, determine the impact on asymptomatic infection, understand when immunity wanes, and determine whether vaccines affect infectiousness," she added.
first published: Dec 31, 2020 01:08 pm
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