Moderna (MRNA 2.35%) reported data showing participants in its coronavirus vaccine trial continued to have antibodies to the virus six months later. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 12, Fool.com Contributors Brian Orelli and Keith Speights discuss the data and the difference between antibody levels and efficacy data for infection rates.
Brian Orelli: Moderna published data on the production of antibodies by its coronavirus vaccine at the six-month point after the second dose. This doesn't seem as compelling as Pfizer (PFE -0.58%) and BioNTech's (BNTX 1.33%) recent data that showed that the efficacy was in the 90% range. But the antibody increased or decent antibody production at six months is so great to see. I should note that this is data from a phase 1 study, so there was no way to generate that same efficacy data because there's no control group in the phase 1 study to compare it to. On the plus side, Moderna's study was peer-reviewed versus Pfizer's, which was just press release data. Do you want to compare and contrast the two datasets?
Keith Speights: You've already hit, Brian, on a couple of differences, obviously, the different phases and one being peer-reviewed; the other was not. I will say that Moderna's data included 33 healthy participants from their phase 1 study, and their research focused on analyzing antibody levels in those participants. They found strong persistence of antibodies to the novel coronavirus six months after the individuals received the second dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech data included 927 participants from a phase 3 study, and they were focusing on the patients or the individuals who developed symptomatic cases of COVID-19, and the focus of their data was on looking at the efficacy six months after the second dose. So I think comparing these two studies is like comparing apples to oranges. They were very, very different. The main takeaway I think that investors can have is that both studies showed encouraging results for what they were looking at. It looks like both of these vaccines will probably remain highly effective six months after the second dose, and that's good news for both Pfizer and Moderna investors.
Orelli: I'm wondering whether Moderna is going to be able to also use their phase 3 data to also generate the same data that Pfizer and BioNTech did eventually. They, of course, they were about a month behind, so in theory, that data wouldn't be available for several months after Pfizer's data was available. I wonder how hard it's going to be because you need that comparator group, and I can't remember whether Moderna was allowing its placebo group to go and get the vaccine almost immediately. If you do that, then you don't have that six months of data; you don't have the data from when you did the second vaccination to when the placebo groups gets the vaccine.
Speights: Exactly. We've talked about Novavax (NVAX -0.56%) taking a different route, where they offered everyone in their studies the opportunity to get another dose. That way, if you were in the placebo group, you didn't know you were in the placebo group, even though you got the actual vaccine later.