Biopharmaceutical Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be 94.5 percent effective, according to preliminary results of their phase three trial involving some 43,000 participants.
"These are obviously very exciting results," the country's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. "It's just as good as it gets — 94.5% is truly outstanding."
The results were confirmed on Sunday by members of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, an independent body.
According to Fauci, the first round of vaccinations could begin "towards the latter part of December, rather than the early part of December." High-risk populations will be the first to get them.
The rollout to the greater population will take longer.
"I think that everybody else will start to get vaccinated towards the end of April," Fauci said. "And that will go into May, June, July. It will take a couple of months to do."
The news comes after Pfizer and German company BioNTech announced last week that their COVID-19 vaccine — based on a brand new, previously unproven mRNA vaccinology technology — was 90 percent effective.
To arrive at the 94.5 percent figure, Moderna found that over several months, 90 participants out of 15,000 who received a placebo developed COVID-19. The vaccinated group, also made up of 15,000 participants, only saw five cases of COVID-19.
More early data to chew on: There were 11 severe cases of COVID-19 in the placebo group and zero in the vaccinated group.
Moderna also has a winning ace up its sleeve. While Pfizer's doses have to be kept at -75 degrees Celsius, Moderna's can be kept at just -20 degrees Celsius, which is about the temperatures of a regular freezer. It can even survive for 30 days in a fridge — meaning that distribution will be vastly simpler.
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More on vaccines: Biotech Company Claims Its COVID-19 Vaccine Is 90% Effective