Ford heralded the positive news from Moderna, and suggested "frontline healthcare workers and long-term care" employees would be first in line to receive a vaccine.
While Moderna does not yet have an arrangement to supply its vaccine in India - where 8.8 million have been infected with the coronavirus and 1,30,000 have died so far - vaccine experts said on Monday evening that it could potentially have an edge over Pfizer's mRNA candidate.
"So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak", Fauci said on NBC's "Today" show.
The news echoed a similar announcement exactly one week ago from USA pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which sent investors cheering with word that its vaccine candidate appeared to be more than 90 per cent effective. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases worked with the company to develop its vaccine. The Liberal government has allocated $1 billion towards vaccine procurement and to-date has secured access to as many as 414 million doses of vaccine candidates from a number of drugmakers including Pfizer and Moderna.
Ninety-five people in the study developed Covid-19 with symptoms; of those, 90 had received a placebo and only five Moderna's vaccine.
"The problem", Dr Kang said, "will be cost, because Moderna has said that their vaccine will cost $37 (more than Rs 2,750), which is a lot".
This was because, he said, "What you have to also remember is the scale - if we're looking at vaccinating even 50 per cent of India's population against Covid-19 with a vaccine like this, the available infrastructure to store polio vaccines will not be enough". Its U.S. contract has an option for 400 million doses in addition to the initial 100 million. Both the Moderna and Pfizer shots are frozen, but at different temperatures.
Furthermore, data from the two trials do not indicate how long the protection afforded by the vaccines lasts. That triggers an immune response created to protect vaccinated people if they are later exposed to the actual virus. Instead, the vaccine contains a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiky protein on the surface of the virus.
But Moderna's independent monitors reported some additional promising tidbits: All 11 severe COVID-19 cases among its volunteers were placebo recipients, and there were no significant safety concerns.
The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses, 28 days apart. Moderna said it plans to ask federal health authorities by early December to clear the vaccine.