In Brief

Coronavirus: Moderna has had effective Covid-19 vaccine since January

The world celebrated last month after Moderna’s long-awaited coronavirus vaccine candidate was found to be 94.5% effective in early clinical results.

But according to New York Magazine, the US pharmaceutical giant finished designing that very same vaccine back on 13 January - just two days after the genetic sequence of the virus had been made public and more than a week before the first confirmed coronavirus case in the US.

The vaccine design reportedly “took all of one weekend” to develop and “was completed before China had even acknowledged that the disease could be transmitted from human to human”.

And by the time the US reported its first Covid-related death, in February, the Moderna vaccine had “already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial”, the mag continues.

Although the speed of the development effort means that “for the entire span of the pandemic… the US had the tools needed to prevent it”, experts agree that completing intensive trials is vital for the safe rollout of any vaccine. 

But as Politico’s London Playbook Emilio Casalicchio notes, “if we had taken a punt and started handing it out (unthinkable, of course), we could be in a different world now”. 

Since posting the trial results in November, Moderna has submitted its vaccine candidate for regulatory approval in the US and the EU, “making it the second Western vaccine maker on track to start distribution in December”, the Financial Times reports.

The company says the trial data has also been sent to “regulators where it is already under rolling review, including in the UK”, the paper adds. 

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