Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert says Moderna vaccine breakthrough gives 'confidence'

A major vaccine breakthrough –– drug maker Moderna announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5 percent effective. The promising news comes just days after Pfizer announced their vaccine is 90 percent effective.

Moderna's vaccine is part of a phase 3 trial with more than 30,000 participants and it includes people of color, people over 65, and those with high-risk conditions.

READ MORE: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective

The news essentially means that of the people who got the two doses of the vaccine, about 95 percent of them are protected against symptomatic infection against COVID.  

Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja says it gives confidence.

"It does give me confidence. None of us thought that these first-generation vaccines –– Pfizer and Moderna –– would get anywhere near 90 percent. We thought it was likely to be closer to 50-60 percent, so to see these vaccines really exceed our expectations, it tells us there's a path forward and an end to this pandemic," said Dr. Adalja.

Dr. Adalja says we're still waiting on Moderna's safety data.

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"The early data from both does not include safety data. We should be seeing that in the next few days. Everything looked good in phase 1 and 2 animal studies, but we want to see the phase 3 data," said Dr. Adalja.

Moderna said they could distribute about 20 million doses by December and about 500 million to one billion doses in 2021.  

"This is very good news, but it's important to remember for the average American to get access to this vaccine, it will likely be mid-2021. With the small number of doses, even though tens of millions sounds like a lot, it's not a lot when you think there are 300 million people in the U.S.and it's a two-dose vaccine. So what will happen in the next following months, is maybe health care workers, high-risk individuals will get vaccinated, but we still need to get through the winter, with people not vaccinated. People need to stay vigilant.  This is a light at the end of the tunnel but we're still in a tunnel," said Dr. Adalja.

READ MORE: Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts when America will return to normal from coronavirus

 One big difference between Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines is that the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored in specialized freezers at about 100 below zero. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a normal freezer, which makes it much easier to store and distribute.

While this is promising news, Dr. Fauci says we can't let our guard down, especially now that coronavirus cases are spiking across the country. We all need to be more vigilant than ever to wear a mask, wash our hands frequently, and socially distance.