Dr. Tal Zaks, the Israeli-born chief medical officer of Moderna Therapeutics, which announced last week that their vaccine has proven to be 94.5% effective, said that Israel was one of the first countries that believed in them and the advance that Israel paid them aided the company in achieving its goal.
“Israel was one of the first countries that believed in us,” Zaks told Globes. “The advance that Israel paid helped to build the company’s production lines. Together with other countries that reserved doses in advance, it will receive doses that have already started being produced in Switzerland by our partner Lonza.”
Zaks told Channel 12 News that Israel’s supply will be one of the first shipments from the production line in Switzerland. The report added that Israel has purchased 1-2 million vaccine doses from Moderna. According to a Channel 13 News report, some Israeli officials are now expressing regret that Israel didn’t purchase more doses from Moderna.
Moderna also has its own vaccine plant in the US churning out vaccine doses which will be reserved for the US market. The company is scheduled to meet with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next several weeks and present its safety and effectiveness data. If it receives FDA approval, it will begin sales of the vaccine in December.
“The results are very exciting and match the optimism we had thanks to the excellent results in the Phase I trial in which we demonstrated that we succeeded in producing a large number of neutralizing antibodies,” Zaks said. “After we saw Pfizer’s results, we were altogether optimistic. I think that these results strengthen the optimism not just about RNA immunizations, but in general the correlation between neutralizing antibodies and a genuine good result in humans, that is to say, they strengthen the chances that the other vaccines that have successfully passed Phase I trials will succeed, and I wish all of them success.”
Zaks said that not only did a mere five people in the trail group contract COVID-19 versus 90 in the control group, but all COVID-19 patients who became severely ill due to COVID-19 were in the control group. That means that it’s possible that not only will the vaccine prevent most people from contracting COVID but will also prevent those who nevertheless contract the virus from becoming seriously ill. However, at this point, since this conclusion is based on a small amount of data, it remains a hypothesis until the theory can be tested on a full sample.
Regarding the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness, Zaks said that he believes it will be effective for at least a few months. “We think, in the light of the high level of effectiveness and the high levels of neutralizing antibodies in the blood, that the vaccine will be effective for at least a good few months. In pandemic conditions, that confirms the expectation that we will be able to eradicate the contagion. Will we need to receive a boost after a year or every few years? That is harder to know.”
Watch Zaks explain the new mRNA technology which is being used for both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines:
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)