Saturday, 6 Mar 2021

Moderna vaccine 'may not stop people spreading Covid'

Moderna’s vaccine may not stop people who catch coronavirus from spreading it to others, scientists have warned.

Although promising trial results have shown the US-developed vaccine is 94.5% effective at stopping people from getting ill, trials haven’t yet tested whether the jab actually prevents transmission.

‘Our results show that this vaccine can prevent you from being sick, it can prevent you from being severely sick,’ Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief scientist, told Axios. 

‘They do not show that this vaccine can prevent you from potentially transiently carrying the virus transiently and infecting others.’ 

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He urged people not to ‘overinterpret’ the promise of the vaccine, though he said he ‘believes’ it should prevent viral spread.

Moderna’s jab does not kill the virus, unlike most vaccines, so the injection itself is not eliminating the virus. 

Instead, it is designed with the intent of preventing the virus from latching onto receptors on human cells that let the virus enter cells.

Unlike more complex human cells, viruses can’t make their own energy. Instead, they have to hijack the machinery of human or animal cells, absorbing that energy and allowing the virus to make copies of itself. 

And without getting into our cells and taking them over for its own purposes, the virus can’t replicate.  

And a lower viral load usually means that the virus is less likely to be potent enough to infect someone else.  

But Moderna hasn’t proven that, and Pfizer hasn’t in its trials either.

But although its trials are still ongoing, early data by AstraZeneca suggests its vaccine it developed with Oxford University should prevent viral spread.

Pfizer and Moderna only tested trial members who developed possible symptoms of Covid-19, according to Science Magazine.

Without knowing of others members of the trials might have been asymptomatic spreaders, there was no way to say for sure whether the vaccine prevented them from infecting others.  

‘When we start the deployment of this vaccine we will not have sufficient concrete data to prove that this vaccine reduces transmission,’ Mr Zaks added.    

‘Do I believe that it prevents transmission? Absolutely, yes, but I saw this because of the science.

‘But absent proof I think it’s important we don’t change behaviours solely on the basis of vaccination.’

He said people should continue to use preventative methods like mask wearing and social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Moderna will continue to collect data if and when its vaccine is approved.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca got all trial participants to swab themselves at home, allowing it to test whether the vaccine was preventing people from transmitting the virus, or just stopping them from becoming unwell.

Its trials are ongoing, but the company said Monday that trials looks promising that the injection may prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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