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Moderna says it has reached major milestone with COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna is expected to release the data from its Phase 3 trial this month and says that it expects to know by the end of November whether its vaccine works.

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The push for a COVID-19 vaccine took another step forward on Wednesday with good news coming from a Massachusetts company.

Moderna, which is based in Cambridge, announced that its vaccine has reached a major milestone in its Phase 3 trial, the completion of case accrual. The company said that "substantially more" than 53 cases of the virus, the goal set for the study, had occurred among the trial's participants.

That's enough to trigger the first interim analysis of the vaccine.

Moderna is conducting a clinical trial of 30,000 participants, with half receiving a placebo and the other half getting the potential vaccine.

Earlier this week, Pfizer announced that its competing vaccine is more than 90% effective. Moderna said in a statement that it is preparing its own data for submission to the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board.

If Moderna's vaccine is approved and effective, it would be given in two doses like Pfizer's. The doses of the Moderna vaccine, however, would be given four weeks apart instead of three.

In addition, Moderna's vaccine would only have to be stored at -4 degrees Fahrenheit instead of -94 degrees Fahrenheit like Pfizer's does.

"It definitely gives us the confidence that it will be way more effective, for instance, than the flu vaccine," said Dr. Simone Wildes, an infectious disease physician at South Shore Health. "But, again, we have to wait and see the data."

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Moderna is expected to release the data from its Phase 3 trial this month and says that it expects to know by the end of November whether its vaccine works.

If the vaccine is determined to be effective, the company could apply for emergency use in December.

Until a vaccine arrives, face masks will continue to be one of the best forms of protection against the coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has wobbled on its mask guidance. At first, the CDC said masks weren't necessary. But then, the national public health institute reported that masks protected others from us. Now, health officials say masks also protect us from others.

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"This is really great news, especially as we are seeing an increase in the number of cases," Wildes said.

Wildes says the type of face mask people use, such as a double-layered mask, can better protect you than others, such as gaiters.