The Global Race to Produce COVID-19 Vaccines

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The Global Race to Produce COVID-19 Vaccines

In the global race for a coronavirus vaccine, another research project has reported great success.

According to the company, US biotech group Moderna, showed in an interim analysis an effectiveness of 94.5 percent in protection against Covid-19. Moderna expects to be able to apply for an emergency permit in the USA in the coming weeks. The European Medicines Agency EMA has already initiated an accelerated approval process.

Moderna is the second large US pharmaceutical company to present positive data from the approval-relevant study with a corona vaccine within a week. Recently the German biotech company BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer were the first companies in the world to publish a success from their crucial study. Accordingly, her vaccination offered more than 90 percent protection against Covid-19, and the application for an emergency permit in the USA is planned for this month. In the United States, two corona vaccines could be launched in December.

The vaccine from Moderna can score points above all with its shelf life advantages compared to the BioNTech vaccination. It does not need ultra-cold storage and can therefore be delivered more easily. Moderna expects it to be stable for 30 days at temperatures of two to eight degrees Celsius and that it can be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius for up to six months. The vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer, on the other hand, has to be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, and at normal freezing temperatures it can be stored for five days.

Both vaccines are based on what is known as messenger RNA (mRNA), which is supposed to convey information to human cells to fight pathogens. Such a vaccine should be able to be manufactured on a large scale faster than conventional ones. But it also needs higher cooling. BioNTech is already working to extend the shelf life of its vaccine at lower temperatures.

The Phase III study of the RNA vaccine mRNA-1273 from Moderna includes a total of 30,000 subjects. Half of them received the vaccine, the other half act as a control group and are given a placebo. So far, a total of 95 study participants have contracted Covid-19. Of these, only five cases were actually vaccinated, 90 cases were diagnosed in the control group. This results in an effectiveness of 94.5 percent.

The EU Commission has meanwhile agreed a contract with the Tübingen-based company Curevac for the purchase of up to 405 million doses of corona vaccine. This was announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Monday afternoon. This is the fifth framework agreement with pharmaceutical companies that have a promising vaccine against the coronavirus under development.

According to von der Leyens, the EU Commission is still in negotiations with the US company Moderna and hopes to be able to conclude them soon. Curevac is not quite as advanced in the testing phase of its vaccine as Moderna and competitor Biontech / Pfizer, which also published promising test data last week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the latest news about the high effectiveness of several vaccine candidates against the coronavirus. At the same time, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed “extremely concerned” on Monday with a view to the surge in the number of Covid 19 cases in several countries. He warned governments not to “play with fire”. It is not “the time for complacency”, stressed Tedros in front of journalists.