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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine candidate adds to hope for pandemic endpoint

(© Fabian –

A second COVID-19 vaccine candidate, this one from Moderna, is showing 94.5 percent efficacy based on interim data from a late-stage trial, opening the possibility of two vaccines being available for distribution as early as next month.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters. This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said.

Based on the interim safety and efficacy data, Moderna intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization with the FDA in the coming weeks, the company reported in a press release.

Moderna is working with the CDC, Operation Warp Speed and McKesson, a COVID-19 vaccine distributor contracted by the U.S. government, to be prepared for distribution in the event that it receives an EUA.

Once it gets the authorization from the FDA, Moderna expects to be able to begin distributing its vaccine “almost in hours,” company president Stephen Hoge told Reuters.

Combined, Moderna and Pfizer could have as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available to distribute to the U.S. prior to the end of the year, and more than 1 billion doses available in 2021.

The news comes against a backdrop of rising cases in the U.S. and throughout the Northern Hemisphere as fall has brought generally cooler weather and the resulting seasonal increase in virus activity.

The COVID Tracking Project reported 145,670 new positive COVID-19 tests in the U.S. on Sunday, and today’s updated number from the Virginia Department of Health was 2,677, a new single-day record.

The number of people in U.S. hospitals with COVID was at 69,987 on Sunday, according to COVID Tracking Project.

That total represents 7.3 percent of the country’s 961,092-bed healthcare capacity.

VDH is reporting 1,337 COVID patients in hospitals today, 8.1 percent of the state’s 16,476-bed capacity.

Virginia hospitals are currently operating at 78.3 percent of their rated capacity, up slightly from the 65 percent average capacity – but the total number hospitalized from all causes today, 12,897, is holding steady from where it has been since mid-May.

The U.S. healthcare system, for all its faults and limitations, has held up pretty well.

The situation in Western and Central Europe is again in flux – with Germany, France and the UK, among others, instituting control measures to try to prevent strain on their healthcare delivery systems.

That makes today’s vaccine news all the more significant.

“We look forward to the next milestones of submitting for an EUA in the U.S., and regulatory filings in countries around the world, while we continue to collect data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in the COVE study. We remain committed to and focused on doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bancel said.