The latest news about the Moderna vaccine
Occupational Health Assessment has been tracking and reporting on COVID-19 vaccinations for many months. The mRNA-1273 “Moderna” vaccine was a promising candidate and has shown positive results in every stage of testing. We first reported on its potential in October 2020.
Although the Moderna vaccine is very similar to the “Pfizer/BioNtech” vaccine, it is much easier to store and transport. It does not need to be stored at -75°c. The UK has pre-ordered 8 million doses.
In trial data just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the full results of the Moderna vaccine’s safety and effectiveness are available for scrutiny.
The vaccine showed a remarkable 94.1% efficacy at preventing COVID-19 illness, including severe disease. It was effective amongst younger adults and the elderly. Apart from minor and transient issues (such as minor pain at the injection site) no safety concerns were identified.
The candidate vaccine is undergoing a “rolling review” programme by the European Medicines Agency. Based on the results just published, approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for its use in the UK is also anticipated in the near future.
What’s the problem?
Many concerns have been reported across mainstream and social media that mRNA vaccines are unproven. It is true that there have been few long-term studies into mRNA vaccines, because the approach to making them is new.
However, robust and large scale trials have shown they compare very favourably with ‘traditional’ vaccines. Whilst we do not know the long-term effects of mRNA vaccines, we do know that COVID is killing thousands of people every day. We also know that life will not return to ‘normal’ without mass vaccination.
Interpreting the reports into the safety of mRNA vaccines can be a tough slog. The MHRA report into the safety and effectiveness of the “Pfizer/BioNtech” vaccine runs to over 50 pages.
Is the vaccine safe?
In short, yes. The Moderna vaccine has been tested in robust placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trials (the gold standard) with over 30,000 participants.
The side effects observed (minor pain at the injection site, tiredness, headaches) are all textbook reactions to vaccination. None were deemed to be serious.
What about altering genes?
It’s understandable that anything that could alter your genetic code would be a concern. However, mRNA technology does not affect our body’s genetic material as it never goes inside our cells’ nucleus, where our DNA is stored.
The body will also break down the mRNA, once it has delivered the message to produce antibodies against COVID-19.
Decisions based on data
Making decisions based on data rather than emotions can be an understandably difficult process. It is important to acknowledge that all the data that has been published so far shows mRNA vaccines to be nothing other than safe and effective.
When asked “would you have an mRNA vaccine?” every doctor in our team answered “yes”, unequivocally.