Moderna vaccine ‘stunningly impressive’ says Anthony Fauci

Moderna vaccine 'stunningly impressive' says Anthony Fauci - We The World
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID Director (Image courtesy of NIAID via Flickr)

The United States’ top infectious disease expert hailed results of Moderna’s recent COVID-19 vaccine as ‘stunningly impressive,’ which showed nearly 95 percent efficacy, saying that he would have been satisfied with 70 or 75 percent efficacy, AFP reported.

Moderna Inc. became the second major US vaccine candidate to announce very high-level protection from the novel coronavirus, sending stocks in the US soaring high.

Just days ago, US biotech firm Pfizer and BioNTech became the first prominent vaccine candidate in the world to announce their vaccine is 90 percent effective in inhabiting the novel coronavirus.

“The idea that we have a 94.5 percent effective vaccine is stunningly impressive. It is really a spectacular result that I don’t think anybody had anticipated would be this good,” Fauci told Agence France-Presse news agency.

Both the vaccine use the new-age mRNA technolgy that works in a different way than traditional adenovirus-based and other methods of vaccine-productions.

Highlighting the success rates recorded in the prelim Phase III trial reports, the infectious disease expert said it underscores the potential of this new technique, which many has disputed.

Moderna began developing the vaccine for the novel coronavirus with the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) headed by Fauci, as soon as China shared genetic sequence information of the new virus.

The NIAID leader who is usually known for his cautious stance on newly developing biotechnologies hailed the messenger RNA technology, saying the ‘date speaks for itself.’

No vaccine based on this technology has been ever approved before, and when asked if these developments would be too early to predict the ultimate success of this new method, Fauci said:

“I think when you have two vaccines like this, that have proven to be greater than 90 percent effective, I think that mRNA is here, it’s established itself, it doesn’t need to prove anything anymore.”

Fauci however said it is not clear how long the vaccine effects would last but he was ‘certain’ the effect would sustain for some time.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine results came after the biotech firm and the NIAID trialed the experimental vaccine on 30,000 volunteers in the US.

Ninety-five people who participated in the vaccine trial contacted the virus, of whom 90 people got the placebo while only 5 of whom got the actual vaccine.

Those who contracted the disease after getting Moderna’s experimental vaccine reported a mild version of the disease, proving the vaccine is largely effective.

People, in general, have been looking up to an approved COVID-19 vaccine which is been anticipated to be the holy grail to break the pandemic.

But many health experts, including the WHO chief, has warned a vaccine alone would not be enough to battle the pandemic that has so far taken over a million lives across the globe.

The logistics challenge

While both the vaccine candidates have raised global hopes for the end of the pandemic gradually, logistics continue to remain an issue. Thanks to specific temperature controls needed to maintain the efficacy of the vaccines while transferring them from one part of the world to another.

When compared between the vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech with that of the Moderna’s, the latter seems to have an edge when it comes to logistics adaptability.

The lowest bar of negative (minus) temperature needed to preserve these vaccines is easier to achieve for Moderna’s offering, than that of Pfizer and BioNTech’s.

Third-world countries, especially the less developed nations struggle to maintain the logistic challenges posed by vaccines that require storing temperature below a certain degree.

The lower the temperature requirements, the more difficult to maintain for long durations.

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