Virus Vaccines Show Overwhelming Success, Giving Hope Amid Pandemic Growth

A new vaccine that protects against Covid-19 is nearly 95% effective, early data from US company Moderna shows. More promising developments on the COVID-19 vaccine front have emerged as Moderna says its shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus, another badly needed dose of hope as the pandemic enters a globally debilitating phase.

The announcement came a week after Pfizer revealed its own vaccine to be similarly effective and as the virus surges in the U.S. and around the world, Lauran Neergaard reports. The results come hot on the heels of similar results from Pfizer, and add to growing confidence that vaccines can help end the pandemic.

Both companies used a highly innovative and experimental approach to designing their vaccines. Moderna says it is a “great day” and they plan to apply for approval to use the vaccine in the next few weeks. Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from an ongoing study. Both Moderna and Pfizer are on track to seek permission for emergency use in the U.S. within weeks.

The results are “truly striking,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert. “The vaccines that we’re talking about, and vaccines to come, are really the light at the end of the tunnel.” Still, initial supplies will be limited and rationed. And who is first in line isn’t yet decided and will be another contentious bridge to cross. Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a telephone interview, “We are going to have a vaccine that can stop COVID-19.”

What does COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness mean?

It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.  Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.

Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.

Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.

The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to grow faster than ever with more and more people.e being infected. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, with the U.S. expected to surpass 250,000 deaths this week.

The early strategies to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 have failed, in particular in liberal democracies. In an increasing number of countries, including the US, the UK, and virtually all Eurozone member states, we have seen escalations over previous restrictions. Running short of critical care beds, governments are now resorting to suppression rather than mitigation. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that this pandemic is currently subject to a very simple calculus: preventable deaths take away individual liberties.

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