The vaccine MRNA-1273 has an efficiency of 94.5%, Moderna announced on Monday, based on a first interim analysis of the ongoing advanced clinical study. The Massachusetts laboratory claims to have thus fulfilled the primary evaluation criteria set for this research component.
Last week, his compatriot Pfizer claimed 90% efficiency for the candidate vaccine discovered by the German Biontech.
In the case of Moderna, of the 95 contaminations observed during the study, 90 were observed in the group which received a placebo and only 5 in the group which received mRNA-1273.
Another advantage over the version of Biontech / Pfizer, the preparation of Moderna should, according to the company, remain stable at refrigeration temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for now 30 days, against a week estimated so far. The product could thus be routed via the storage and distribution infrastructure for vaccines available.
Moderna now intends to submit an application for approval to the authorities in the United States and Europe in the coming weeks. Swissmedic accepted at the end of last week a continuous review of the data collected as they became available.
“From a manufacturing point of view, we will be ready to deliver (…) for the first half of 2021,” Dan Staner, head of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) region, told AWP on Monday and Head of the Swiss market for Moderna.
“Back to normal” in summer 2021
“It will be primarily for people at risk”, specified the general manager of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, at 19.30 of the RTS. “But by the summer of 2021, there will be enough doses to vaccinate the entire population in Europe and the United States“, he added, foreseeing therefore “a return to normal”.
For Claire-Anne Sigrist, vaccine specialist, the idea that “we will eradicate this virus in less than a year” is “very optimistic”. The effectiveness of Moderna’s product was measured immediately after vaccination, she said, also speaking on RTS. “We will have to see what happens after a few months, in terms of its effectiveness, but especially its safety”.
For her, it will not be possible to start vaccinations in Switzerland before spring 2021 because of the authorizations to be obtained.
Industrial production in the sights
In August, the Confederation had secured access to 4.5 million doses of mRNA-1273 developed by the Cambridge firm. Assuming that it will probably take two doses, this first contract will ensure, if approved, the vaccination of 2.25 million people.
“Switzerland is a strategic market for us. (…) A large number of Swiss investors have been with us since the start of the adventure ten years ago”, recalled Dan Staner.
Many banks – including the Geneva-based Pictet and Edmond de Rothschild as well as the Vaud Cantonal Bank – have thus financially supported the project, reported the daily Le Temps in September. BB Biotech holding company holds a 1.4% stake, according to the commercial register.
The laboratory will end the year with 20 to 25 employees in Switzerland. “Next year, we expect to be around fifty,” according to the manager Emea.
Moderna has entered into a subcontracting agreement with Lonza, which will produce from Visp the vaccine for all markets except the United States, where 20 million doses should be available by the end of the year. Lonza’s contribution, ie 400 million doses, should be able to increase production capacity to half a billion doses from next year.
The subcontractor of the pharmaceutical industry indicates in a reaction to the announcement of its partner to have already put into service at the end of September the dedicated lines on its site in Portsmouth, in the country of Uncle Sam. Production on the site history of Visp, in Valais, must begin before the end of the year.
Albert Baehny, predecessor of Pierre-Alain Ruffieux at the head of the Rhineland-Valais group, had specified in August that production would be spread over four sites, including that of Visp, and required an investment of 70 million francs in each case.
The announcement at the start of the afternoon tipped Lonza stock into the green. At 4:43 p.m., the title took 2.6% to 619.80 francs in an SMI up 0.71%.