Biotechnology firm Moderna has announced that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial. The announcement comes just a week after Pfizer and BioNTech released the findings of a trial of their own vaccine, which also showed better than 90 efficacy against the virus.
Encouraging news of a second vaccine in the pipeline further lifted hard-hit travel sector stocks, with airlines, hotels, and cruise lines all posting gains in early Monday trading amid hopes for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta jumped more than 5 percent in the wake of the Moderna announcement.
Hotel stocks also rallied with Hilton Hotels, Hyatt and Marriott International all gaining more than 5 percent. Cruise line stocks gained more than 7 percent. Oil futures rose on the vaccine news as well, as traders look for an end to COVID-19 restrictions to revive travel-based consumption.
The results of the Moderna trial, which included 30,000 participants, will be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, but the early indicators of both safety and effectiveness suggest that both of the vaccines could be authorized for emergency use as early as December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available on a limited basis.
The two vaccines could be available for widespread distribution sometime in 2021, since the US government has already agreed to buy more than 1 billion doses from the two vaccine makers.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use new technology known as messenger RNA or mRNA. However Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at standard refrigerated temperatures, between 36 and 48 degrees, where the Pzifer candidate requires ultra-cold temperatures. The higher temperatures will make distributing the vaccine easier.
“If these full data sets hold, when the full data comes out, we may have two highly effective vaccines against COVID,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday.
Gottlieb, a former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner and a board member of Pfizer, said, “Once we get these vaccines in sufficient qualities heading in 2021, the combination of the fact that a lot of the population will have already had Covid, combined with the fact that we’ll be vaccinating the public with a highly effective vaccine, we could effectively end this pandemic in 2021 with our technology.”