Does this mean the end of the pandemic?
On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company Moderna reported promising preliminary results from its coronavirus vaccine trial. It offered more hope that there’s going to be a way out of the pandemic.
Vaccines prepare the immune system to fight infections and prevent illnesses. Certain cells of the immune system produce antibodies (special proteins) that recognize viruses and other pathogens (things that cause disease) and make them harmless.
Moderna develops vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA) to produce viral proteins in the body. The vaccine being tested in this study is called mRNA-1273. Typical vaccines for viruses are made from a weakened or inactive virus, but mRNA-1273 is not made from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is made from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), a genetic code that tells cells how to make protein, which helps the body’s immune system make antibodies to fight the virus.
They have yet to bring one to the market. In January, they began developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. The vaccine contains genetic instructions for building a coronavirus protein, known as a spike. When injected into cells, the vaccine causes them to make spike proteins, which then get released into the body and provoke a response from the immune system.
Moderna’s phase three trials – to determine the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness – had enrolled more than 30,000 participants in the US. On Nov. 16, Moderna announced that a preliminary analysis of the trial indicated that the vaccine was 94.5 percent effective. Out of 95 participants who got Covid-19, 90 had the placebo and only 5 had the vaccine. The results came just a week after Pfizer made a similar announcement about their own vaccine, which is also based on an mRNA molecule encoding the spike protein. Another promising result from Moderna’s trial was the finding that the vaccine appears to protect people from severe disease. Of the 11 volunteers who developed the severe disease, none were vaccinated. The trial will continue to gather more results; Moderna says it plans to submit an application for an Emergency Use Authorization in the next few weeks.
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