Scientists rejoice at Moderna vaccine news
Scientists and health officials have been celebrating the results of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine trials, which appear to be almost 95% effective.
Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy working on the pandemic, said he was “joyful” about the news, and that it proved science could triumph regardless of politics.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: “We’ve had quite unusual lack of co-operation between some major countries, and outfits like the one I am associated with, WHO, have had a bit of a kicking.”
He continued: “But on the other hand we’ve had remarkable scientific co-operation – between the scientists themselves and between the companies, so it is something really to rejoice about.”
Dr Nabarro added: “We might be a bit down in the mouth about the politics but the science is brilliant and I think it is something for everyone in the world to feel really good and warm about.”
“Every single person who has been working on this, we are only in it for one thing and that is to try and do the best we possibly can for the people of the world,” he said.
“It really makes me feel brilliant about humanity.”
Moderna’s president Dr Stephen Hoge, said the news that the vaccine might be 94.5% effective was a “stunning realisation” that left him “grinning from ear to ear”.
He told BBC News: “When we got the news from the data and safety monitoring board, I’ll admit I broke character and grinned ear to ear for a minute.”
Stephane Bancel, chief executive of the US firm, described it as a “milestone” and praised the “hard work and sacrifices of so many”.
The company, which is just 10 years old, received support from the US government’s “Operation Warp Speed” to accelerate its work on a Covid vaccine.
Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, said the Moderna news “is really quite impressive”, which along with the recent Pfizer vaccine findings, “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak”.
He told NBC’s Today programme: “I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak.”
Asked about the timeline for vaccinating people, Dr Fauci projected that by the end of December, there will be doses available for people at high risk from coronavirus.
Meanwhile in the UK, Dr Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), hailed the Moderna results as “terrifically encouraging”.
Dr Hatchett highlighted that information suggested the vaccine protected against more severe disease and reported side-effects appeared to be manageable.
He added: “The fact that the vaccine shows stability when stored in a normal refrigerator for up to 30 days is also terrific news and will allow the vaccine to be distributed broadly.
“All in all this is another great day in the struggle against Covid-19.
“We have a long way to go, of course, but we are accumulating the tools we will need to end the pandemic.”
Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh, said results from the Moderna and Pfizer trials were “very reassuring”.
But she warned it was “unknown” whether any vaccines undergoing trials prevented disease transmission or helped to reduce transmission to make a “meaningful difference” to Covid-19’s spread within communities.
Overall she concluded the Moderna results were “excellent news”, adding: “Having more than one source of an effective vaccine will increase the global supply and, with luck, help us all to get back to something like normal sometime in 2021.”
Dr Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at Wellcome, said progress on potential coronavirus vaccines was “incredibly promising”, but cautioned that “urgent questions” over the duration of their effect and how they worked in different populations “remain to be answered”.
She also argued it was “critical” that “we urgently and decisively work on the wider issues of Covid-19 vaccine allocation and delivery”.
But she said: “The light at the end of the tunnel is looking brighter.”