The effort to fully vaccinate the U.S. population hit a setback earlier this week, when the government announced a pause of administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, due to concerns about a very small handful of recipients who have suffered blood clots. It’s unclear, at this point, how long that pause will last.
However, there was some better news on the vaccine front Wednesday, with another of the approved vaccine makers, Moderna, sharing some positive data.
Per CNBC, Moderna announced Wednesday that its mRNA vaccine is 90 percent effective at protecting against coronavirus, and 95 percent effective in preventing severe disease, six months after the second dose. Those figures are through April 9 and are in line with the company had previously reported about effectiveness.
Those numbers came from an updated clinical trial, as Moderna continues to seek the full arrival and use of its vaccine. Earlier, the Moderna vaccine had received emergency use authorization and Moderna has already distributed 132 million doses of the vaccine worldwide.
The news would seem to allay fears that the vaccines’ antibody effectiveness would wear off after a certain period of time.
Moderna also said that its variant-specific vaccine candidates “showed that the Company’s variant-specific booster vaccine candidates (mRNA-1273.351 and mRNA-1273.211) increase neutralizing titers against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.”
“The Moderna team continues to make important progress with our COVID-19 Vaccine. We are looking forward to having the clinical data from our variant-specific booster candidates, as well as clinical data from the Phase 2/3 study of our COVID-19 Vaccine in adolescents,” Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, said in the company’s release announcing the findings.
“The new preclinical data on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants. Moderna will make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control.”
CNBC had reported that those figures were in line with a recent report by the New England Journal of Medicine finding that the antibodies induced by the Moderna vaccine will still present six months after vaccination.
How do mRNA vaccines, like those of Moderna and Pfizer, actually work?
“In each of our cells, DNA produces messenger RNA (mRNA) containing the templates for making proteins. It’s called messenger RNA because it carries that information to other parts of the cell, where the instructions are read and followed to produce specific proteins,” Julian Daniel Sunday Willett wrote last November.
“When a patient is injected with mRNA in a vaccine, their cells use the information in that mRNA to create a protein: in this case, a version of the spike protein from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The immune system recognizes that protein as a signal to produce antibodies and immune cells.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.