Story at a glance

  • The positive news comes just a week after Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, reported its vaccine appeared to be more than 90 percent effective.
  • But Moderna’s vaccine comes with a critical advantage; unlike Pfizer's candidate, it doesn’t need to be stored in deep-freeze conditions to remain viable.
  • Moderna said its vaccine candidate remains stable at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a standard home or medical refrigerator, for 30 days.

Drugmaker Moderna on Monday joined Pfizer as a front-runner in the race for a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus as record-breaking outbreaks are taking place throughout the U.S. 

Moderna announced an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials showed its experimental coronavirus vaccine appeared to be 94.5 percent effective.


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The positive news comes just a week after Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, reported its vaccine appeared to be more than 90 percent effective, far exceeding the Food and Drug Administration’s requirement that coronavirus vaccines be at least 50 percent effective to receive emergency use approval. 

Both company’s plan to apply for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks and have tens of millions of doses for high-risk groups before the end of the year. 

But Moderna’s vaccine comes with a critical advantage; unlike Pfizer's candidate, it doesn’t need to be stored in deep-freeze conditions to remain viable. 

Pfizer’s vaccine candidate needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be effective, requiring dry ice and special freezers for transport and storage. That can make widespread distribution in the U.S. a challenge and complicate vaccination efforts in developing parts of the world lacking the technology and resources. 

Moderna said its vaccine candidate remains stable at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a standard home or medical refrigerator, for 30 days. It can stay viable at room temperature for up to 12 hours and stored for up to six months at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That is a massive enablement to be able to distribute much more broadly and much more easily,” Noubar Afeyan, Moderna co-founder and chairman, told CNN Business

While health care workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions could begin receiving a vaccine in December, public health experts estimate the general public likely will not be able to get the vaccine until sometime in the spring of 2021. 


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Published on Nov 16, 2020