More promising news in the COVID vaccine race. Early findings show Moderna’s experimental vaccine has worked in nearly 95 percent of patients.
This vaccine candidate uses a new gene technology called messenger RNA. When injected, the RNA enters healthy cells where it makes coronavirus spike proteins and that prompts an immune response. Patients get two shots - an initial vaccine and a booster a few weeks later.
These early findings show that of the 30 thousand clinical trial vaccine volunteers, only 95 people have gotten COVID symptoms so far and 90 of them had the placebo.
"Given the rate at which we're acquiring cases, we do expect that we'll have probably 150 or 151 cases at the final analysis," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, the president of Moderna.
We’re getting these results quickly because there are more COVID cases as the coronavirus rapidly spreads in the US. It’s good for scientific research, troubling for those at risk of getting severely ill. In about a week, there have been a million new cases. ICU beds and staff to care for sick patients are running thin.
"We're increasing the number of beds needed for COVID patients on a day to day basis," Dr. Jean Kutner, Chief Medical Officer, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital said.
“We’re seeing the hospital rates go up in the last two weeks ..number of patients in ICU has quadrupled," said Dr. Pavel Gozenput, an ER doctor in Long Island, New York.
"We're tired of seeing the fear on the faces. We're tired of seeing people who are passing away who were in their normal state of health just a few days prior," said Dr. Helen K. Koselka, TriHealth Regional Chief Medical Officer in Ohio.
The country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recommends people not abandon all public health measures, even after a vaccine is available.
"Even though for the general population, it might be 90 to ninety five percent effective, you don't necessarily know for you how effective it is," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
Researchers and regulators must wait for more complete safety data from the study. That’s expected later in November. Moderna then plans to ask the FDA for emergency vaccine approval in early December. Manufacturing, the drugmaker’s president says, will be a 24/7 operation.
"We hope to have about 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year, by the end of the calendar year, and we're looking forward to making about 500 million to a billion doses next year," Hodge said.
There is one big hurdle-getting people to take an approved Covid vaccine. Surveys show about half of Americans aren’t sure they want to, yet. Fauci says vaccinations should begin in December, with widespread vaccination around the second quarter of 2021.
Additional footage from CNN.