By Bill Bangert
UC College of Medicine
New research shows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is 94.1% effective against the virus. The phase 3 clinical study involving more than 30,000 adult participants at nearly 100 trial sites was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. UC enrolled 185 patients in the study.
“It’s reassuring that these results show that the vaccine works and that there is a good response and that the response lasts a good six months, which was really the goal of the study,” says Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, co-investigator and medical director of the study and a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine. “The caveat is that these results don’t reflect the new delta variant circulating and there will be further information that will be forthcoming in this study under the setting of the delta variant of how well the vaccine holds up in that time window.”
Individuals who participated in the blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study received either the vaccine or a placebo in two injections. The vaccine was incorporated into the patient’s cells, which began producing a viral antigen to which the immune system responded. Participants kept a daily electronic diary of their symptoms and also completed telehealth and clinic visits with UC Health clinical researchers that will continue over a two-year period.
“It’s simply incredible that so many people stepped up at a time when we knew very little about what would be protective,” says Fichtenbaum. “It’s truly an amazing gift that these 30,000-plus people have given to the rest of the world to help us find effective vaccines that protect people from getting very sick.”
The first participant to receive a dose in the UC/UC Health study in August 2020 was Jarelle Marshall, 37, an information technology professional from Cincinnati.
“We’re all in this together. We all want to get things back open and get back to as normal as possible,” Marshall said at the time. “I always try to teach my son to walk the walk. You can say all these things, but to actually walk the walk and do what you say you’re going to do, and if you’re going to try to help people, you just do it.”
The release of the study results come at a time when some people are still hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Fichtenbaum hopes the science of this research changes some minds.