Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) were the first drugmakers to announce interim efficacy results from a late-stage study of their coronavirus vaccine candidate. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) had its turn last week. And -- like Pfizer and BioNTech -- the company had some very good news. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Nov. 16, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina talks with writer Keith Speights about the big story from Moderna's exciting update.

Corinne Cardina: Turning now, we have Keith Speights coming on. A longtime writer. Fools, we're going to talk about the exciting news that we got today from Moderna.

Before we do that, I do want to remind everyone that we are using a question-and-answer service called Slido. So open that up on your browser. There's also an app. The code is "MFlive". We are hoping to get to some of your questions at the end of this 30 minutes. Please throw those in there, and we will just go ahead and start by having Keith share the headline today. Keith, what did we learn from Moderna this morning?

Keith Speights: Hi, Corinne. It's a little like deja vu. It was just a week ago we were talking about Pfizer and BioNTech. Great news with their interim efficacy for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Today, we're talking about Moderna, and again, it's great news.

Moderna this morning announced their interim efficacy results, and they announced a 94.5 percent vaccine efficacy, which is outstanding. Let's see. Corinne, I think they had maybe a 100 or 95 cases in this interim analysis, 90 of those were in the placebo group and five were in the group that received Moderna's vaccine candidate. And so really only five people who took the vaccine experienced a case of COVID-19 whereas 90 people in the placebo group experienced COVID-19. So that's a very good interim result.

Corinne Cardina: Absolutely, and just for clarity, this is not one of those trials where folks are exposed to the coronavirus intentionally, they go about their daily lives as usual?

Keith Speights: Exactly. At least, so far, and I actually don't anticipate we will have any of those challenge studies where humans are intentionally exposed to the coronavirus. There's just really no need for it.

But yes, that's what happened. They had thousands of people enrolled in the study. After receiving either placebo or the actual vaccine, then they wait and see who is going to be infected or not. And when they hit a certain threshold, then the independent data monitoring board that oversees the study does an interim analysis, turns that data over to the company, in this case, Moderna. We heard those results this morning.

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