The UK is yet to secure access to the US company’s vaccine, but the government says it is in “advanced discussions” to do so
A new US-developed vaccine has now been shown to be 94.5% effective at protecting people from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to interim results.
Produced by the pharmaceutical company Moderna, in collaboration with the US government’s “Operation Warp Speed”, the new vaccine for COVID-19 has also been shown to last in storage for up to 30 days within household fridges and can last at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
The vaccine also remains stable at -20C, which is equal to most household or medical freezers, for as long as six months.
This suggests that it can be stored and transported a lot more easily than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was announced last week to be 90% effective at protecting people from COVID-19.
This comes after speaking in his first interview with a broadcaster from the UK, Professor Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of the German firm BioNTech, had said that the first vaccines for COVID-19 could be rolled out to UK patients nationwide by mid-December.
Following last week’s news, internationally governments around the world, including the UK government, had been rushing to deal with the current logistical challenges that come with deploying the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, which is currently required to be stored at the much lower temperature of -70C.
A spokesperson said: “The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
“As part of the ongoing work of the vaccines taskforce, the government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.”
“Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.”
“To date, the UK government has secured early access to 350 million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers.”
“This includes 40m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which is based on the same platform as Moderna’s vaccine and if approved by the medicines regulator, is expected to begin delivery as early as December 2020.”
Moderna’s president, Dr Stephen Hoge, said he “grinned ear to ear” when learning about the potential efficacy of the vaccine.
He told BBC News: “When we got the news from the data and safety monitoring board, I’ll admit I broke character and grinned ear to ear for a minute.”
“I didn’t expect, I don’t think any of us really hoped, that the vaccine would be 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, that was really a stunning realisation.”
This comes after the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Van Tam, has said that he will be encouraging his own mum to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved, as he assured the British public that safety standards would not be compromised in the face of the public health emergency.
He said combined with data suggesting it can stop severe coronavirus, it means “that the vaccine really is a terrific tool for stopping the pandemic and hopefully stopping the worst of the disease that people are facing”.
He added: “When you combine it with the news of last week of Pfizer’s vaccine, you’ve got now two vaccines that are over 90% effective.”
“It really means I think we have the tools necessary to finally beat this virus back and I think that’s probably the best news of the day for all of us, is that there really are now solutions in our hands and we need to deliver them to the people who can use them.”