- On Monday, the biotech company Moderna released preliminary data that, so far, shows a 94.5% effectiveness rate in its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
- The news comes a week after Pfizer and BioNTech announced a 90% effectiveness rate in their joint vaccine.
- While this is undoubtedly hopeful news and could indicate success for other vaccine candidates, several questions have not yet been answered.
- For instance, it is unknown how long either vaccine provides immunity, how effective they are at preventing asymptomatic cases, and if they are as effective among older people.
- Still, Moderna’s vaccine has one major advantage over Pfizer’s vaccine since it’s able to be stored at regular fridge temperatures, as opposed to an ultra-cold negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moderna Announces Its Vaccine Is 94.5% Effective
Moderna released preliminary data on its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on Monday, which it now says is 94.5% effective.
That announcement comes one week after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech released similar data that showed their joint vaccine is more than 90% effective. It also comes as the United States logged a single-day record of 180,000 new cases on Friday and has now crossed 11 million confirmed cases since January.
Moderna’s trial, now in its late stages, involves 30,000 people. Of that, half were given two doses of the vaccine, and the other half were given placebo injections.
So far, in total, 95 people in the study have contracted COVID-19. That’s where the 94.5% figure comes in, because of those 95, only five cases have come from people who were given the vaccine.
On top of that, while 11 of those 95 cases have been severe, Moderna said all 11 came solely from the placebo group.
Moderna’s Vaccine Solves a Key Problem
Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are very similar. Both use genetic material known as mRNA to target a protein on the surface of the coronavirus. Thus, given Pfizer’s announcement last week, it had been expected that Moderna would soon follow up with its own promising results.
To note, both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy rates can change as the last little bit of data pours in, but if they hold up and if this data stands up among reviewers, it would blow expectations out of the water. While anyone would hope for the best possible vaccine, realistically, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been ready to approve — at minimum — a vaccine that is only 50% effective.
It’s also too soon to begin comparing which of these vaccines has better efficacy. In fact, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told Business Insider that it would be “naive” to compare Pfizer’s 90% efficacy with Moderna’s 94.5% efficacy.
That’s because there’s still a host of unknowns. For example, it is still unclear for either vaccine how long immunity will last. It’s also possible that immunity could differ between age groups, as some vaccines are less effective in older people.
It’s also unknown how effective the vaccines are at stopping asymptomatic infections and thus, the spread of the virus. For example, it’s possible that the vaccines could confer enough immunity to keep an infected individual from becoming symptomatic; however, that person could still run the risk of spreading the virus.
Still, Moderna’s vaccine does have one key advantage over Pfizer, so much so that if both vaccines do end up having near the same level of effectiveness, Moderna could still edge out Pfizer as the more viable vaccine.
That’s because Pfizer’s vaccine must be shipped at negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit — meaning it needs dry ice and special containers. From, there it is able to be stored at normal fridge temperatures (36 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to five days.
Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine candidate can be shipped and stored at normal fridge temperatures for up to 30 days.
What’s Next for Moderna?
Both Pfizer and Moderna plan to apply for emergency-use authorization later this month. Still, it is unclear how long it’ll take for the FDA to make a decision on whether to approve these vaccines.
If and when these vaccines are approved, they are going to be very limited. Very likely, the first vaccines are going to be reserved for people who are more at risk of contracting COVID-19. That includes people who have underlying conditions, as well as healthcare workers.
As far as when these vaccines could become widely available, Bancel suspects that’ll happen somewhere around Memorial Day, which will fall on May 31 next year.
By the end of next year, Moderna hopes to have a billion doses available — enough to vaccinate 500 million people around the world. That’s on top of the 1.3 billion doses Pfizer and its partner BioNTech hope to have by the end of next year.
To properly put an end to the pandemic, there will need to be more than just one safe and effective vaccine. Simply put, one company’s vaccine isn’t going to be able to vaccinate the whole world.
Just as Pfizer’s data boded well for Moderna, Monday’s news could also bode well for Johnson & Johnson, as well as Astrazeneca. Both companies have vaccine candidates that are in late-stage trials, and while they don’t use mRNA, both of their vaccines target the same protein that Pfizer and Moderna are targeting.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (BBC) (Reuters)
Teens Attack and Rob 80-Year-Old Asian Man in Northern California
- Viral surveillance footage shows an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area being assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police say are teenagers.
- Police believe the suspects are as young as 16, and at one point, one can be heard in the video giggling from the getaway car as the victim cries for help.
- The news comes after the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data showing that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March.
Suspect Laughs at Victim During Attack
Surveillance video going viral on social media captured an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area getting assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police believe are teenagers.
The full video is extremely distressing. It shows the man getting knocked to the ground, trying to fight off his attackers as he cries for help. To make matters worse, at one point, high-pitched giggles can be heard coming from another teen in the background. That person appears to be inside a getaway car nearby.
The victim was robbed of a watch and sustained minor injuries. Police have also said that a vehicle similar to the one used in this case was spotted at a strong-armed robbery in a nearby San Leandro area less than two hours later, where another victim was robbed of her purse.
Police believe the suspects are as young as 16.
Surge of Crimes Against Asians in U.S.
This is just the latest violent attack against an Asian person making headlines since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, reports emerged regarding two Asian women who were attacked with a hammer in Times Square by someone demanding they remove their masks. Two other Asian women were recently stabbed while waiting for the bus in downtown San Francisco.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data Thursday saying that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March — with Chinese people as victims in 44% of these acts.
Vancouver Sees Massive Influx of Anti-Asian Hate
While anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the U.S., the situation may be worse in Canada, specifically in Vancouver. Around 42% of people in Vancouver are of Asian descent and at least 25% speak Chinese — making it the most heavily Asian city in North America.
Still, it witnessed a 717% year-over-year surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Bloomberg even dubbed it the Anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, saying more anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in the city of 700,000 people last year than in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.
That’s part of why people all across the city are participating in more organized action to speak out against anti-Asian hate. For instance, several rallies took place in Vancouver Monday to mark the National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism.
Derek Chauvin and 3 Others Ex-Officers Indicted on Civil Rights Charges Over George Floyd’s Death
- The Justice Department filed federal criminal charges Friday against Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers after a grand jury indicted them for violating the civil rights of George Floyd.
- The indictment charges Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao for violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force. All three, as well as Thomas Lane, were also charged with failing to provide medical care to Floyd.
- Chauvin was additionally hit with two counts in a separate indictment, which claims he violated the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy who he allegedly held by the neck and repeatedly beat with a flashlight during a 2017 arrest.
- Chauvin was already convicted last month of murder and manslaughter over Floyd’s death, which Kueng, Lane, and Thao were previously charged for allegedly aiding and abetting.
Former Minneapolis Officers Hit With Federal Charges
A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers for violating George Floyd’s civil rights during the arrest that lead to his death last summer, the Justice Department announced Friday.
Chauvin, specifically, was charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer. Ex-officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were indicted for willfully failing to intervene in Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force.
All three men, as well as former officer Thomas Lane, face charges for failing to provide medical care to Floyd, “thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd,” according to the indictment.
In a second, separate indictment, Chauvin was hit with two counts of civil rights violations related to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017. During that incident, Chauvin allegedly held the boy by the neck and hit him with a flashlight repeatedly.
The announcement, which follows a months-long investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, comes just over two weeks after Chauvin was found guilty of three state charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
He is currently awaiting his June 25 sentencing in a maximum-security prison.
Kueng, Lane, and Thao all face state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Kueng and Lane were the first officers to responded to a call from a convenience store employee who claimed that Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill. Body camera footage showed Floyd sitting in the car and Lane drawing his gun as the officers ordered him out and handcuffed him.
Floyd can be heard pleading with the officers not to shoot him.
Shortly after, Chauvin and Thao arrived, and the footage shows Chauvin joining the other officers in their attempt to put Floyd into the back of a police car. In the struggle, the officers forced Floyd to the ground, with Chauvin kneeling on his neck while Kueng and Lane held his back and legs.
Meanwhile, in cellphone footage taken at the scene, Thao can be seen ordering bystanders to stay away, and later preventing a Minneapolis firefighter from giving Floyd medical aid.
Their trial is set to begin in late August, and all three are free on bond. The new federal charges, however, will likely be more difficult to prove.
According to legal experts, prosecutors will have to show beyond reasonable doubt that the officers knew that they were depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights but continued to do so anyway.
The high legal standard is also hard to establish, as officers can easily claim they acted out of fear or even poor judgment.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Caitlyn Jenner Says Her Friends Are Fleeing California Because of the Homeless Population
- California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner sparked outrage after an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday that was filmed from her Malibu airplane hangar.
- “My friends are leaving California,” she said. “My hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’”
- Many criticized Jenner for sounding out of touch and unsympathetic to real issues in California and suggested that she prioritize helping the homeless population rather than incredibly wealthy state residents.
Caitlyn Jenner’s Remarks
California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner sparked outrage on Wednesday after suggesting that wealthy people are fleeing the state because of its homeless population.
Jenner sat down for an interview in her Malibu airplane hangar with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Jenner is one of the handful of Republicans aiming to unseat current Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election in the fall. While polls show that most Californians do not support recalling Newsom, the conservative-led movement to do so gained enough signatures to land on the ballot.
“My friends are leaving California,” Jenner claimed during the interview. “My hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, ‘where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’”
“I don’t want to leave,” she continued. “Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.”
Jenner’s Remarks Prompt Backlash
Her remarks were criticized online by people who thought Jenner sounded unsympathetic and out of touch to the real issues in the state. Many found it hypocritical that Jenner has slammed Newsom for being elite but was so concerned for wealthy people who don’t like having to see unhoused residents on the street.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.) called Jenner out on Twitter for seemingly fighting for a small percentage of Californians.
“Unlike you, Dems are focused on the 99% of people who don’t own planes or hangars,” he wrote. “And you know what’s going to help reduce homelessness? The #AmericanRescuePlan, which your party opposed.”
Others suggested she prioritize directly addressing the homeless situation.
“If you don’t like the homeless situation, instead of hiding in your PRIVATE PLANE HANGAR, your campaign should be about helping them,” actress Merrin Dungey said. “They don’t like their situation either. Your lifelong privilege is showing. It’s not a good color.”
Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist and reality star, is one of the most prominent transgender Americans. Because homelessness is such a common issue within the trans community, some were frustrated she was not using her campaign to fix the situation, and rather used it to complain about how it impacted her wealthy friends.