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Two Covid-19 vaccines expected in December

Moderna Inc’s experimental vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second US drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations, a Reuters news said.

Together with Pfizer Inc’s vaccine, which is also more than 90pc effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorised for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.

The vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million.

Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s shot can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, which should make it easier to distribute, a critical factor as Covid-19 cases are soaring, hitting new records in the US and pushing some European countries back into lockdowns.

“We are going to have a vaccine that can stop Covid-19,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a telephone interview.

Moderna’s interim analysis was based on 95 infections among trial participants who received the vaccine or a placebo. Only five infections occurred in volunteers who received the vaccine mRNA-1273, which is administered in two shots 28 days apart.

“The vaccine is really the light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert said. He urged Americans not to let their guard down and to continue washing hands and being vigilant about social distancing.

Moderna expects to have enough safety data required for US authorisation in the next week or so and expects to file for emergency use authorisation (EUA) in the coming weeks.

The company’s shares, which have more than quadrupled this year, jumped as much as 12pc to a record high while European stocks and Wall Street futures rose. Benchmark S&P 500 futures rose 1.3pc, stopping just shy of a record high, while the pan-European STOXX 600 hit its highest since March 5.

Shares in Pfizer and its partner BioNTech fell 2.6pc and 12.9pc respectively while Britain’s AstraZeneca, which has yet to release any results from its late-stage vaccine trials, was down 1.1pc at 1425 GMT.

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