The Moderna coronavirus vaccine and what it means for the Netherlands
Following Pfizer’s encouraging announcement about the success rate of their coronavirus vaccine, a new update from pharmaceutical company Moderna reveals that their vaccine is 94,5 percent effective. What does this mean for the Netherlands?
Moderna coronavirus vaccine is 94,5 percent effective
On Monday, a short week after Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech released a press statement announcing their vaccine was 90 percent effective, Moderna revealed that, as part of phase three of their study, results show their vaccine is proving to be 94,5 percent effective.
30.000 people are taking part in phase three - 15.000 participants receive two doses of the vaccine, while the other half receive two placebos. So far, 95 participants have been diagnosed with COVID-19, only five of which had received the Moderna vaccine.
Before either of the vaccines will be available for distribution in the Netherlands, they must be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Due to the exceptional circumstances, the EMA has initiated a so-called rolling review of the Moderna vaccine (as well as the Pfizer / BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines), which allows the agency access to the (interim) results of the ongoing study, enabling them to assess them at a much faster pace.
In spite of the streamlined and accelerated review process that the EMA has announced, they make it clear that this will not affect the quality of the investigation - the vaccines are still expected to meet the same standards and the same requirements.
How many doses of the coronavirus vaccine will the Netherlands receive?
The Moderna vaccine is one of six coronavirus vaccines that the European Union has negotiated deals for. The EU has agreed on a deal for 80 million doses of the vaccine, with the option of scaling up to 160 million doses. These doses will then be allocated to EU member states according to a fixed distribution key - the Netherlands will receive 3,89 percent (over three million doses).
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge expressed optimism about the “hopeful interim research results” from Moderna, and is happy that the EMA has agreed to accelerate the evaluation process: “This will keep the momentum going and there will soon be clarity about the effectiveness and safety of the various vaccines.”
In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Netherlands has purchased 7,8 million units of the Janssen vaccine, 8,8 million of the Curevac vaccine, 11,7 million of the Sanofi / GSK vaccine, and, together with France, Germany and Italy, signed a contract for 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Distributing the vaccine in the Netherlands
A leaked document from the Dutch government has revealed that vulnerable elderly people (i.e. those living in care homes), people with serious (chronic) illnesses, and people working in healthcare will be the top priority when it comes to distributing the vaccines. Only after these people have been protected from the virus will the vaccine be administered to key workers, but it seems that experts cannot decide whether young people should also be prioritised.
De Jonge has neither confirmed nor denied the contents of the document, saying he will wait until the Health Council of the Netherlands has assessed the situation and issued their advice. This is expected to come on Thursday. Once this advice has been issued, the government is expected to finalise the vaccination strategy for the Netherlands. It is possible that this will be announced by the end of the week.
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