Moderna vaccine shows promising results

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NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — It’s a glimmer of hope as Covid-19 cases surge in places around the world.

“You can’t tell if a trial works until you have enough cases to evaluate, and the cases are rising quickly. We’re getting an answer faster than we thought would be possible,” said Dr. Spyros Kalams. He is the principle investigators for the Moderna vaccine trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Today, Moderna announced preliminary data from the ongoing trial shows the vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, based on 95 people in the study who contracted SARS-CoV-2.

“Of the 95 people who had symptomatic COVID, 90 were in the placebo group. Five were in the vaccine group,” explained Dr. Kalams.

The trial is meant to test if the vaccine prevents severe disease in the 30,000 participants. The term “disease” refers to symptoms requiring hospitalization.

“So, of the five that showed infection and disease,” asked News 2’s Alex Denis, “How severe were their symptoms? Do we know?”

“No, we don’t. That’s what we’re going to find out. That’s a great question,” Dr. Kalams responded. “What I can tell you is, there were 11 cases of what were considered more severe disease. I don’t know how severe that was. But all of those 11 were in the placebo group. There were no cases of severe illness in the vaccine group.”

Initial findings also hint at protection from the vaccine that Dr. Kalams hopes will continue. “From these numbers, it’s probably preventing infection as well. It’s not that you’re just getting milder illness. But, I don’t want to speak out of turn,” he said.

We met Nashville native Martha Deacon in August and chatted about her experience in the Vanderbilt trail. We reached out again Monday to hear her reaction to the news.

“Thank you for thinking about me. When I heard 95%, I went wow! I’m so impressed when you think about it these studies normally take years,” said Deacon.

And, while there’s more work to do, the excitement is shared by many. “It’s just great that we’re starting on a such a bright note after such a short period of time,” said Dr. Kalams.

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