Posted November 17, 2020 9:28 am by

Moderna vaccine results ‘stunningly impressive,’ Fauci tells AFP

Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the Moderna vaccine’s early results were “stunningly impressive” © AFP/File / MANDEL NGAN

Washington, United States, Nov 17 – The United States’ top infectious disease scientist on Monday hailed early trial results from Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine as “stunningly impressive,” and said the findings were an emphatic validation of experimental mRNA technology that some had doubted.

In an interview with AFP, Anthony Fauci said he would have settled for injections that protected 70-75 percent of people from falling sick.

“The idea that we have a 94.5 percent effective vaccine is stunningly impressive. It is really a spectacular result that I don’t think anybody had anticipated would be this good,” he said.

Fauci leads the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which began co-developing the vaccine with the US biotech company in January, shortly after China shared the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus.

It is based on a relatively new technology that uses a synthetic version of a molecule called “messenger RNA” to hack into human cells, and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.

No vaccine based on this platform has ever been approved.

“There were many people who had reservations about using something that had not been tried and true over the years; in fact, some people even criticized us for that,” said Fauci.

On Monday, Moderna and NIAID announced their preliminary results based on 95 of the 30,000 volunteers they had recruited who fell ill with Covid-19.

Of the 95, 90 had been in the trial’s placebo group, and five in the group that received the drug, called mRNA-1273, translating to an efficacy rate of 94.5 percent.

Fauci recalled that some had questioned whether the vaccine would prevent severe forms of Covid-19, not just mild or moderate cases — and this too had been resoundingly answered.

“There were 11 severe events, none in the vaccine group — 11 in the placebo group, so that settles the question of whether it prevents severe disease, which it definitely does.”

– ‘The data speak for themselves’ –

It follows a similarly impressive result from American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech last week, who reported an efficacy of 90 percent for their vaccine.

Asked whether it was too early to say if mRNA technology had now been proven, Fauci — who is usually known for his cautious statements — said the jury was definitely in.

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