Is this Moderna vaccine the real deal?
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Today, Moderna released Phase 1 data on its Covid-19 vaccine for 3 separate doses. The important findings were that the vaccine demonstrated safety, stimulated the development of valuable neutralizing antibodies in all 8 patients, and showed dose-dependent activity. On the subsequent investor call after the data, the company claimed it could its manufacturing to make 1 billion vaccines a year. The timeline for the next phase study was imminent and a Phase 3 study to obtain final data that could spark FDA approval and widespread use was scheduled to start by July. The company speculated that the final vaccine product might be in consumer hands by early 2021 if the phase 3 trial were successful. The markets responded enthusiastically with a 3.85 % increase of the Dow Jones Industrials index.
Does this vaccine solve all our Covid-19 related problems. Certainly not. The vaccine was only studied in a handful of patients. Importantly, the target subjects for this trial were aged 18-55 whereas the highest risk population for Covid-19 in the general population has been those over 65 years of age. No long-term outcome of immunity was performed or ability to fight Covid-19 infection. The safety data was only tested in a few patients as well. The vaccine may prove to be harmful like the disastrous dengue vaccine of 2016 in the Phillipines. Also, the potential adequacy of manufacturing required for the full scale eventually needed is also unverifiable at this point.
Clearly, this vaccine trial is terrific news for those wanting to end the Covid-19 way of life. However, a much larger trial is required with adequate understanding of safety and efficacy effects before the trial can ever be approved. Additionally, the time required to immunize 300 million Americans and 6 billion people worldwide could take years and multiple vaccine groups to develop approved products. Employers will need to monitor these developments to keep their employees as safe as possible while vaccines are awaiting approval and distribution. Close understanding of all these issues in the upcoming months and years will provide optimal safety in the workplace for all.