After a dark year of bad news, humans may have a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A therapeutics company named Moderna may have found a promising solution for pandemic-weary people; a vaccine that may be close to 95% effective. What is the Moderna company, and when will people be able to get this game-changing vaccine?
What is the Moderna Company?
Moderna is a biotech and therapeutics company focused on mRNA therapy to solve health and disease challenges. The Moderna website explains their company’s goals; “Every cell in the body uses mRNA to provide real-time instructions to make the proteins necessary to drive all aspects of biology, including in human health and disease.
Given its essential role, we believe mRNA could be used to create a new category of medicines with significant potential to improve the lives of patients.
We are pioneering a new class of medicines made of messenger RNA, or mRNA. The potential implications of using mRNA as a drug are significant and far-reaching and could meaningfully improve how medicines are discovered, developed and manufactured.
Since our founding in 2010, we have worked to build the industry’s leading mRNA technology platform, the infrastructure to accelerate drug discovery and early development, a rapidly expanding pipeline, and a world-class team. Our pipeline includes development candidates for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies spanning several therapeutic areas, and we have multiple clinical trials underway with other development candidates progressing toward the clinic. In addition, we have numerous discovery programs advancing toward development.”
Moderna describes their goal as plans to, “deliver on the promise of mRNA science to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients.”
Moderna and COVID-19 Research
Like most biotech companies, Moderna has spent 2020 scrambling for a way to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. One promising study may have done just that. Their website explains, “The vaccine being tested in this study is called mRNA-1273. The study team is testing if the vaccine can help the immune system produce effective antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus so that, in case of infection, the virus does not cause illness. The vaccine cannot cause infection or make someone sick with COVID-19.
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 help the body’s immune system make antibodies to fight the virus.”
CNN reports, “the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.
‘These are obviously very exciting results,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor. ‘It’s just as good as it gets — 94.5% is truly outstanding.'”
Pfizer has also announced the potential for an effective vaccine. Moderna, however, offers one significant advantage with their product: storage. Per CNN, “While the two vaccines appear to have very similar safety and efficacy profiles, Moderna’s vaccine has a significant practical advantage over Pfizer’s.
Pfizer’s vaccine has to be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius. No other vaccine in the US needs to be kept that cold, and doctors’ offices and pharmacies do not have freezers that go that low.
Moderna’s vaccine can be kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius. Other vaccines, such as the one against chickenpox, need to be kept at that temperature. That means Moderna’s vaccine can be kept in ‘a readily available freezer that is available in most doctors’ offices and pharmacies,’ [Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal] Zacks said. ‘We leverage infrastructure that already exists for other marketed vaccines.’ Another advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it can be kept for 30 days in the refrigerator, the company announced Monday. Pfizer’s vaccine can last only five days in the refrigerator.”
When Will People Be Able to Receive A Coronavirus Vaccine?
The New York Times reports, “Both companies said they expected to apply within weeks to the F.D.A. for emergency authorization to begin vaccinating the public. In addition to the evidence for effectiveness, the companies must also submit two months of safety data on at least half of the participants.”
Stocks have soared in the wake of the announcements by Pfizer and Moderna as the economy too sees a light on the horizon. Pandemic-weary Americans and citizens of other countries of the world hold their breath, waiting for an end to the constant anxiety, worry, heartache, and loss. With a large portion of the world isolated and struggling with financial insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, these announcements are a balm. Vaccines could arrive as soon as December, or as late as April.