COVID-19

Second coronavirus vaccine, from Moderna, shows promise

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Nov 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
COVID-19

Second coronavirus vaccine, from Moderna, shows promise

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Nov 16, 2020
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Moderna is the second drug company in a week to announce preliminary results showing its coronavirus vaccine is highly effective. Dow futures are rallying on the news.

Marketplace’s Nova Safo has the latest, and the following is an edited transcript of his conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host Sabri Ben-Achour.

Sabri Ben-Achour: What are the details of Moderna’s announcement?

Nova Safo: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine is almost 95% effective and may have helped prevent severe cases of COVID-19 among those who still got infected.

This was not unexpected news after Pfizer and BioNTech’s announcement last week, because both of these experimental vaccines use similar technology — new technology — relying on messenger RNA, a cell’s internal mechanism, to help fend off a viral infection.

The big difference is that, unlike Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, Moderna’s version does not need to be kept in ultracold storage for transport, so it could be less of a logistical challenge to get it to people.

We should caution that neither of these vaccines currently have regulatory approval, but applications are expected in the next few weeks.

Ben-Achour: And then what happens? Presumably it’s going to take a while to get vaccines to people?

Safo: Yes. If approved, we could have tens of millions of doses by the end of this year, but we’ll need hundreds of millions. The U.S. has deals in place for both vaccines, to buy as many as a billion doses, so we’ll have enough, but it’ll take a while to manufacture that many.

It’s also unclear how many people will actually take them. Polling shows about 50% are willing to get vaccinated.

That’s not going to cut it. As one of the BioNTech scientists explained over the weekend, you need a high vaccination rate to get this pandemic under control.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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