Moderna has just published the first headline efficacy data from its Phase 3 COVID-19 trials showing that its breakthrough mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which is extremely similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate, is 94.5% effective at preventing the virus, higher than Pfizer’s 90%, and “Sputnik V’s” 92%.

Unsurprisingly, futs are surging on the news, leaving US equities on track to rip at the open. And Moderna shares are soaring as well in the premarket.

Analysis of the data, covering more than 30,000 volunteers, showed the vaccine prevented virtually all symptomatic cases of the virus, as it appeared even more effective than Pfizer’s vaccine. Only five participants who received two doses of the vaccine became sick, compared with 90 coronavirus cases in participants who received a placebo. The vaccine also appears to prevent the most serious infections. “That for me is a game-changer,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said. Additionally, Moderna said its vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for 30 days, much longer than the 7 days that analysts expected. This means that buyers may not need the extensive network of refrigerators required to store it.

Scientists praised Moderna’s vaccine for its durability, and for the comprehensiveness of the trial data. The Phase 3 trials included many ‘diverse’ groups, including a sizable number of patients from high risk groups. Here’s more on that from the FT. 

Moderna also said it expected its vaccine to remain stable when refrigerated at between 2C and 8C for 30 days, significantly longer than the BioNTech-Pfizer shot, which can survive in a normal fridge for only up to five days and must otherwise be stored at minus 75C. Trudie Lang, from Oxford university’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, said it was “very good news indeed to see another vaccine coming through with similar efficacy results as were reported last week from Pfizer”.  Prof Lang added that the early results suggested different age groups and diverse communities were represented in the protected group. “This is really encouraging and it further demonstrates that a vaccine for Covid is a real probability and that having more than one supplier should help assure better and more equitable global availability.” Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, noted that the trial included “many high-risk or elderly” people. “This gives us confidence that the results are relevant in the people who are most at risk of Covid-19 and in most need of the vaccines,” he added.

Europe’s top pharma regulator, the EMA, said Monday that it had started an accelerated review of the Modern a vaccine, suggesting that it could be approved in Europe in more quickly than in the US, as the intense competition for vaccine stocks heats up.

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With Moderna’s findings following so swiftly behind Pfizer’s, there’s little doubt among analysts that the numbers will only further boost the optimism surrounding the outlook for COVID-19. As many media figures proclaimed last week, the vaccine research represents “the light at the end of the tunnel” for the pandemic, though Joe Biden, Dr. Fauci and others have warned the public that social distancing and mask wearing must continue for quite some time, perhaps the bulk of next year.

We noted last night and earlier Monday morning that the latest vaccine data might be released as early as today. As we move closer to the open, we can’t help but wonder.

And then we get to do it all again next week (or perhaps a week or two later) when the AstraZeneca-Oxford or some other trial data hits.

With the outlook for COVID-19 improving,

Via Zerohedge