Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine greater than 90% effective against virus 6 months after second shot

Findings from Moderna’s latest Phase 3 clinical trial found that its vaccine offers greater than 90% efficacy against the novel coronavirus and greater than 95% effectiveness against severe cases from the virus six months after the second dose is administered. 

Earlier this month, the company said it found in previous clinical trials that its vaccine offered protection against COVID-19 for at least six months. 

Moderna said approximately 132 million doses of its vaccine have been administered globally as of April 12. 

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"The Moderna team continues to make important progress with our COVID-19 Vaccine. We are looking forward to having the clinical data from our variant-specific booster candidates, as well as clinical data from the Phase 2/3 study of our COVID-19 Vaccine in adolescents," said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna in a company news release. "The new preclinical data on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants. Moderna will make as many updates to our COVID-19 vaccine as necessary until the pandemic is under control."

The company said trials to determine the length of time its vaccine is effective are currently ongoing, but updated data will be shared throughout the year. 

On April 1, Pfizer released results from its ongoing late-stage study of more than 44,000 volunteers confirming its two-dose vaccine continues to be effective against COVID-19 up to six months after full vaccination.

Many in the U.S. who received their shots in December are approaching their six-month mark in June. 

For those health care workers who were among the earliest vaccinated, the existing data on the length of vaccine efficacy paints an incomplete picture of how long they can expect to be fully protected against the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said it’s just too soon to tell.

In an April 6 interview with FOX Television Stations, Fauci said, "We don’t know the answer to that for the simple reason that we don't know what the durability of the protection against the standard virus is."

"The most recent reports said at least six months but it might be much longer than it could be years for all we know," Fauci added. 

Meanwhile, both Moderna and Pfizer have completed enrollment for studies of children ages 12 and older and are expected to release the data in the months ahead. Both are also now studying their shots in children under 12 — including babies as young as 6 months.

On April 9, Pfizer announced that it requested to expand the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in the United States for older children ages 12 to 15. The request asks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to amend its Emergency Use Authorization, which was originally granted in December for people ages 16 and older.

The hopeful news on Moderna’s two-dose vaccine comes as the U.S. recommended a "pause" in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they were investigating unusual clots in six women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died.

The acting FDA commissioner expected the pause to last only a matter of days. But the decision triggered swift action in Europe and elsewhere as the drugmaker and regulators moved to halt the use of the J&J vaccine, at least for now.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.