There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Moderna, a biotechnology firm, says that it has developed a COVID-19 vaccine, which trials show is 94.5 percent effective against the coronavirus–even for people with severe cases.
Moderna announced the news about the promising vaccine on Monday, revealing that its tests on around 30,000 people have garnered hugely successful results.
“If you look at the data, the numbers speak for themselves,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases which partnered with Moderna to develop the vaccine, reports the Washington Post. “I describe myself as a realist, but I’m fundamentally a cautious optimist. I felt we’d likely get something less than this. … I said certainly a 90-plus-percent effective vaccine is possible, but I wasn’t counting on it.”
“In this pandemic, what has been awful from a public health standpoint, an economic standpoint, is the worry people have to get so sick they have to go to the hospital — so sick they have to get to the ICU and have a high risk of dying,” said Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive. “If a [vaccine] could prevent 95 percent of people to not get disease, but to not get severe disease, that would be a game-changer: the impact on hospitals, the impact on people’s psyche and the impact on deaths.”
Both Moderna and Pfizer, which announced last week that it is also finalizing a vaccine for COVID-19 that is over 90 percent effective, have contracts to sell doses to the U.S. government. Unlike Pfizer’s, the Moderna vaccine was developed with the investment of government dollars—to the tune of nearly $1 billion—as part of Operation Warp Speed. And while Pfizer’s vaccine requires storage at negative 70 degrees celsius, Moderna says its vaccine can be refrigerated for a month and remain stable.
Moderna says it anticipates wrapping up its vaccine trial by the end of November, which means that after review by the Food and Drug Administration, doses can start being delivered to those at the highest risk for COVID-19. Vaccine treatment could then be delivered to the wider population by April of next year, according to the Post.
A spring 2021 vaccine would take us into more than a year of living with this dastardly pandemic, but it offers a hopeful end to the ever-multiplying numbers of Americans sickened and dying from the coronavirus, which should encourage everyone. Let’s try and keep it together with the mask-wearing and social distancing for a few more months.
It also remains to be seen if the troublingly prevalent anti-vax crowd will throw a wrench into the effective distribution of any COVID-19 vaccine. If we’ve seen anything from 2020, it’s that far from every American is willing to carry out personal actions that will benefit the health of the community at large. But let us hope that common sense and decency will finally, finally prevail.