The COVID vaccine being tested by pharmaceutical company Moderna had an efficacy rate of 94.5 percent, a “truly outstanding” result, according to top infectious disease doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The results came from a study of more than 30,000 participants, according to an independent, government-appointed review board. The company, which is developing the vaccine in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, said in a press release that the majority of side effects were mild or moderate in severity, and “severe” side effects included pain after the first injection and fatigues, myalgia, and headaches.
The next step is for Moderna to submit for an emergency use authorization (EUA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as obtaining regulatory approval in other countries. The company said it “expects” to have 20 million doses ready by the end of 2020 and that it’s “on track” to manufacture as many as one billion doses next year.
“These are obviously very exciting results,” Fauci, the longtime direction of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN. “It's just as good as it gets -- 94.5% is truly outstanding.”
Vaccinations could begin in the second half of next month, according to Fauci.
Last week, Pfizer announced that its vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective, making it the first company to release results from a late-stage trial in the U.S. for a vaccine candidate. Some volunteers who took it complained of symptoms comparable to a “severe hangover.” Fauci told VICE News in an interview that the Pfizer result was “impressive.”
There have been concerns about freezer storage for the vaccines. However, Moderna announced separately on Monday that new data showed its vaccine could remain stable in temperatures common for home and medical refrigerators for up to 30 days, in freezers for up to six months, and at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
“The ability to store our vaccine for up to 6 months at [-4° F] including up to 30 days at normal refrigerator conditions after thawing is an important development and would enable simpler distribution and more flexibility to facilitate wider-scale vaccination in the United States and other parts of the world,” Moderna CTO Juan Andres said in a statement.