Several coronavirus variants with the potential to be more transmissible have caused global concern over whether existing vaccines will still protect the world from a virus that is constantly mutating.
'Vaccine safety has now been evaluated in more than 44,000 participants aged 16 years and older with more than 12,000 vaccinated participants having at least six months of follow-up after their second dose'.
With those data, Pfizer secured an FDA emergency use authorization in December.
According to officials, "Moderna is continually learning, adapting and working closely with its partners and the USA government to identify ways to facilitate accelerated vaccine administration, address bottlenecks and accelerate production". Of that group, 77 received the vaccine and 850 were given a placebo shot.
"The Pfizer data are a big deal", said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, noting that the results offer the first data in humans about how so-called mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer's will perform against the South African variant.
Over 6.75 crore COVID vaccine doses administered in India so far
Food and Drug Administration has authorized two changes to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine that can provide extra doses from each vial. After April 1, all those aged over 45-even those without co-morbidities-were allowed to be vaccinated.
While neutralisation reduced 14-fold when tested against the Brazilian variant, experts believe the very high immune response generated by the vaccine is enough to provide protection against that strain. They said there were nine cases of COVID-19, all of which were observed in the placebo group.
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat says Moderna developments are "incredible" and argues the dual vaccine will very likely 'save lives'. A spokeswoman said on Thursday its strategy remains in place.
Only one of 21 severe cases had been given the vaccine - indicating 95.3 percent efficacy, the statement said, using the Food and Drug Administration definition of severity. "The high vaccine efficacy observed through up to six months following a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa provides further confidence in our vaccine's overall effectiveness".
"Preliminary data show that the COVID-19 vaccines now available in the United States should provide an adequate degree of protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants", Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in the statement.
The results follow separate data that showed the vaccine is safe and effective in 12- to 15-year olds, paving the way for the drugmakers to seek USA and European approvals for this group.