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US Drug Maker Moderna Announces Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine is More than 90% Effective Against Virus

FILE - Biotechnology company Moderna protocol files for COVID-19 vaccinations are kept at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, Aug. 13, 2020.
FILE - Biotechnology company Moderna protocol files for COVID-19 vaccinations are kept at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, Aug. 13, 2020.

The global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is getting a boost with news of another potentially effective vaccine.

U.S.-based Moderna announced Monday that its experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective against the infection, based on preliminary results from its third and final stage clinical trial. The Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical giant developed the vaccine in collaboration with researchers with the U.S. government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Moderna is now the second potential COVID-19 vaccine to achieve a successful effectiveness rate of more than 90%, coming just a week after U.S.-based Pfizer and German-based BioNTech became the first to announce a critical breakthrough. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Moderna’s news also comes on the same day that a unit of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will begin a third and final stage clinical trial of a potential vaccine in Britain. Janssen Pharmaceuticals will enlist 6,000 volunteers to receive the two-dose experimental vaccine, eventually expanding to 30,000 participants across several nations, including Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, Spain and the United States.

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Another experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is currently in widespread Phase 3 global trials in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. The company briefly paused testing of the one-dose vaccine last month after a participant was diagnosed with an unexplained illness.

Meanwhile, younger people who recovered from COVID-19 but continued to experience symptoms suffered lingering damage to multiple organs, according to a new study from Britain.

Observations of more than 200 patients reveal that nearly 70% have damage in one or more organs as long as four months after their initial infection, including the heart and lungs.

The findings shed further light on the trend of “long COVID” symptoms suffered by COVID-19 victims, including fatigue, breathlessness, pain and so-called “brain fog,” even among those considered at low-risk of infection. More than 60,000 people in Britain are believed to be suffering from “long COVID” symptoms.

But researchers caution that none of the patients was scanned before the initial COVID-19 diagnosis, meaning that some may have had pre-existing conditions.

As of Monday, there have been a total of more than 54.4 million COVID-19 infections, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, including more than 1.3 million deaths. The United States and several nations across Europe, including Britain, France, Germany and Spain, are experiencing an escalating surge of new infections, prompting national and even local governments to impose a new set of restrictions to blunt the spread of the disease.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after being in contact with a member of parliament who tested positive. Johnson fell sick with the infection in April, but said in a video posted on Twitter that he is "as fit as a butcher’s dog" and "bursting with antibodies.”

Southern Australia is also undergoing another spike of coronavirus infections. Premier Steven Marshall of South Australia state says the region has entered “a very, very dangerous situation” after a COVID-19 cluster in the capital city of Adelaide grew to 17 cases. The outbreak has been linked to a failure at one of the state’s quarantine hotels, where international travelers are required to isolate for 14 days upon arrival.