Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) has confirmed its COVID-19 vaccine achieved a 94% success in its recent phase III trial and that it will apply for emergency approval in the US and Europe immediately.

Moderna, which ran a trial of 30,000 volunteers across all ages with half receiving its vaccine candidate and half a placebo, said no one taking its candidate developed a severe case of COVID-19.

In the placebo group there were 185 cases of which 30 were severe.

Eleven people in the vaccine group caught COVID-19 but none of these was severe, said Moderna.

There were also no serious safety issues identified while the drug was generally well-tolerated.

Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said: “This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent Covid-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe Covid-19 disease.

“We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalisations and death.”

Britain has acquired 7mln doses of the vaccine, or enough for 3.5mln people as two are needed, which is expected to be available in Europe in spring 2021.

Moderna’s vaccine targets  SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and uses a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes the patient’s own body to recognise a pathogen.

It is expected to cost around £24 per dose or ten times more than the vaccine developed by Oxford University/AstraZeneca PlC (LON:AZN), but Bancel told reporters that he sees it as being most useful for people most at risk given its high efficacy against severe cases.

Healthcare workers, the elderly, people with diabetes, who are overweight or who have heart disease should get it, he said, adding that young healthy people should receive another vaccine.

Moderna received US$1bn from the US government (and US$1mln from Dolly Parton) to help develop the vaccine.

Full trial data will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in due course, it said.

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