The bet among leading specialists in the field is that the therapy, which also uses mRNA technology, will also prove highly effective. Initial data analysis could arrive in a few days
November 12, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Illustrative file photo of vials with a vaccine label for COVID-19 next to the Moderna logo. Oct 31, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic
Now it's Moderna Inc.'s turn to grab the spotlight. The same explosion of covid-19 cases that contributed to Pfizer Inc.'s test results earlier this week is helping speed up Moderna's test. The company said Wednesday that its study has racked up more than 53 infections , allowing a preliminary analysis of the vaccine's effectiveness to begin. The company's stock soared on the stock market.
Moderna did not anticipate how long an independent monitoring committee might take to analyze the data, but said it could bring the data to the committee in a matter of days. The company said its access to the data remains masked.
“Moderna has seen a significant increase in the rate of case identification at all locations in the last week, ” the company said in a statement. “As a result, the company expects the first interim analysis to include well over 53 cases, the target trigger point for the analysis.”
Preliminary data on Moderna's study is being prepared for presentation to the supervisory board, Moderna said. The board will say if the vaccine is effective, if it doesn't work, or if the trial should continue because the results are inconclusive.
Vials of an mRNA-type vaccine candidate for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, May 25, 2020. REUTERS / Athit Perawongmetha / FILE PHOTO
The bet among leading experts in the field is that Moderna's therapy, which uses mRNA technology similar to Pfizer's , will likely prove highly effective, perhaps reflecting Pfizer's announcement earlier this week that its injection appears to be more than 90% effective.
“Overall, I would expect similar results” in the Moderna trial, said Drew Weissman , an immunologist and mRNA expert at the University of Pennsylvania who helped develop key modifications used in mRNA vaccines.
“It's hard to imagine how it could be very different,” according to Weissman, whose lab receives research funding from BioNTech SE, the company that partnered with Pfizer on its vaccine.
In vaccine trials, a certain number of volunteers, a percentage of whom receive a placebo, must be infected to determine if the vaccine works. This is easier to achieve with the pandemic in the United States registering a daily record of infections.
Pfizer saw a significant increase in results in recent weeks that pushed that test to the forefront. Now the initial analysis of Moderna could arrive in a few days.
Whatever happens to the test, and there are no guarantees until it's over, the results are sure to have a big impact on Moderna's stock, which has risen more than 300% this year on a giant roller coaster.
Moderna's share value quadrupled this year
A preliminary analysis in Moderna's trial would likely have already been available if the vaccine were only 60% effective, according to research firm Airfinity Ltd. However, if Moderna's vaccine turns out to be 90% effective, that timeline would be extended. and Moderna would be seeing results now , Airfinity said.
The more effective a vaccine is, the longer it will take for cases to add up, as there would be fewer infections in half of the participants who received the vaccine instead of a placebo.
The strong similarity to the successful Pfizer vaccine is increasing confidence in Moderna's , which was developed in collaboration with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The Pfizer result “validates the mRNA platform,” said Anthony Fauci , NIAID director and the US government's top infectious disease expert, in a media call Monday. “Moderna is a candidate for mRNA, which we hope will have similar results.”
(With information from Bloomberg)