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Covid vaccine: Moderna to apply for European emergency authorisation

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Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Moderna Inc will apply for U.S. and European emergency authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine on Monday after full results from a late-stage study showed it was 94.1% effective with no serious safety concerns, the company said.

Ireland is due to receive a share of around 1.6m doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine bound for Europe if it is given the green light.

Moderna also reported that the vaccine's efficacy rate was consistent across age, race, ethnicity and gender demographics as well as having a 100% success rate in preventing severe cases of a disease that has killed nearly 1.5 million people.

The filing sets Moderna's product up to be the second vaccine likely to receive U.S. emergency use authorization this year following a shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech which had a 95% efficacy rate in trials.

"We believe that we have a vaccine that is very highly efficacious. We now have the data to prove it," Moderna Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks said. "We expect to be playing a major part in turning around this pandemic."

Of the 196 volunteers who contracted Covid-19 in the trial with more than 30,000 people, 185 received a placebo while 11 got the vaccine.

Moderna reported 30 severe cases - all in the placebo group - which means the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing severe cases.

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"As the numbers of cases reported grows, confidence grows that this amazing protection will be maintained in a product that can be rolled out to protect the public," said Alexander Edwards, associate professor in biomedical technology at Britain's University of Reading.

In addition to filing its U.S. application, Moderna said it would seek conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency, which has already begun a rolling review of its data, and would continue to talk with other regulators.

Pfizer has already applied for emergency use authorization in the United States and Europe, putting it about a week ahead of Moderna.

Both of the vaccines use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) whereas others, such as Britain's AstraZeneca, are using more traditional methods to develop their vaccines.

AstraZeneca has announced an average efficacy rate of 70% for its shot and as much as 90% for a subgroup of trial participants who got a half dose, followed by a full dose. But some scientists have expressed doubts about the robustness of the 90% efficacy figure for the smaller group.

CONSISTENT ACROSS AGE AND ETHNICITY

Moderna said the 196 Covid-19 cases in its trial included 33 adults over 65 years old and 42 volunteers from racially diverse groups, including 29 Latinos, 6 Blacks, 4 Asian Americans and 3 multiracial participants. There was one death related to Covid-19 in the placebo group.

Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, said Monday's details from Moderna confirmed the vaccine was highly efficient, including against severe cases.

"Whilst this does not exclude some risk of severe disease after vaccination given the relatively small number of severe cases, these results suggest very high efficacy," she said.



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