Moderna Says Vaccine Efficacy Data Could Come by Thanksgiving

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Moderna Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said efficacy data for its Covid-19 vaccine could be available by as soon as Thanksgiving if everything goes right.

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is in second-stage trials, with final-stage trials set to begin next month on 30,000 people. In an interview on Bloomberg Television on Monday with David Rubenstein, Bancel said in a best-case scenario “we could have efficacy data by Thanksgiving. This is the best time line.”

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would decide what to do next, “they might decide to give us emergency use approval for people at very high risk,” while the agency more carefully reviews the data before granting approval for a broader population, Bancel said.

He said he was cautiously optimistic that one or more of the vaccines in testing would work.

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Bancel also discussed the possibility raised by some vaccine experts that the coronavirus vaccine would prevent disease but not completely stop Covid-19 infection. While Moderna’s big trial will measure whether the vaccine prevents infection, the primary goal will be to prevent sickness, Bancel said.

“The number one priority is to make sure you get no disease,” said Bancel, “because of course people die from disease, not from infection.”

He also said Moderna was starting to think about how to fairly price its vaccine.

“The price, we are working on it as we speak,” he said. “What we need to make sure is that the vaccine is affordable.”

But vaccines won’t be free, he said.

“Manufacturers, as you can appreciate, cannot give them away in the street. Business doesn’t work like that,” he said. Prices should be in line with existing vaccines and also take into account that federal funding helped back the coronavirus vaccine development, he said.

Here are some other key takeaways from Bancel:

  • “Dr. Tony Fauci has said that when they did the vaccine for SARS it took them 20 months to go from the sequence of a virus to starting a clinical trial. In our case it took us 63 days, two months to go from sequence of a virus to starting injecting a human.”
  • “What we did with the FDA, and every manufacturer does the same for this vaccine because of the pandemic, is we are moving to the next stage of testing only when we know safety. We do not wait for efficacy or for neutralizing antibodies. So the phase three should start in July based on the safety data of the phase two.”
  • “We should have enough capacity to cover for the U.S. population. What we’re gonna do out of Europe and out of the Swiss plant is to make product for people outside the U.S.”

Rubenstein, the co-founder of private equity firm Carlyle Group Inc., hosts “Leadership Live With David Rubenstein” on BTV.

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