Fauci predicts good results from Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial because it's similar to Pfizer's, but warns against declaring victory

  • Moderna announces it's ready to submit interim data from its vaccine trial to an independent safety board. Its results are imminent.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci predicts positive results from Moderna's coronavirus vaccine trial
  • Markets respond with Moderna's shares up 5% in premarket.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's bitter-sweet. More people are becoming infected with coronavirus so vaccine trial results are being released quicker. The race for an effective vaccine is heating up, with Moderna signaling late on Wednesday it is readying data from its current COVID-19 vaccine trial. 

US drugmaker Pfizer was first, reporting on Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective in trials, and its smaller rival Moderna isn't far behind.

Moderna's Phase 3 'COVE' trial is testing its vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, a vaccine that uses a similar technology to Pfizer's BNT162b2.

On Wednesday, Moderna said it has hit 'trigger point' for submitting its interim trial data to an independent safety board. This means it could likely release the results of its trial as early as this month, intensifying the race among pharma companies around the world to be the first to land an effective vaccine against COVID-19.

Global markets have rallied, with US benchmark indices returning to record highs this week, after Pfizer's announcement offered a glimmer of hope that the roll-out of a vaccine could help slow the damage to the economy from the pandemic.

The US government has already committed up to $1.5 billion to get its hands on Moderna's mRNA-1273 shots.

Top US expert on infectious diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, is working with Moderna and has contributed to the funding of the Phase 3 trial.

He told the Financial Times on Wednesday that he expects to see similar positive results from Moderna's coronavirus vaccine trial. 

Following the release of Pfizer's vaccine trial data, Fauci said he believed all Americans could have access to a vaccine by April 2021.

"This is very good news looking forward," Fauci said on Monday, adding that the results are "extraordinary" and "have a major impact on everything that we do with regard to COVID."

Moderna anticipates it will produce 20 million doses worldwide by 2020, and up to one billion doses in 2021.

Moderna shares rallied by as much as 5% in premarket trading on Thursday, boosted by Fauci's comments.

In spite of his optimism, Fauci remains cautious, warning against relaxing measures that prevent that control of coronavirus, such as masks.

The world is "very, very far from victory," in the fight against coronavirus, he said.

The United States has the worst death rate from COVID-19 in the world, with close to a quarter of a million deaths so far. It also accounts for one in five cases globally. There are currently 52.2 million cases worldwide, and 10.5 million of those have been in the US alone. 

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