Moderna's chief scientist says his vaccine prevents the coronavirus from making people sick – but the shot CANNOT stop you from spreading the virus
- Tal Zaks, Moderna's chief medical officer, told Axios the company had no data to show whether their vaccine was preventing the virus from spreading
- Moderna announced earlier this month that its shot was 94.5% effective in preventing people from developing or seriously ill with coronavirus in studies
- But because the company hasn't tested any asymptomatic participants, it doesn't know if vaccinated people can be silent carriers and spreaders, Zaks said
- He added that he believed the vaccine should stop viruses from spreading – but didn't have the data to prove it
Moderna's vaccine may not prevent people who contract coronavirus from passing it on to others, the company's chief scientist admitted.
But Tal Zaks added that he "believes" the shot will – attempts have not yet tested this in a recently released https Axios Interview.
He urged Americans not to "over-interpret" the promising test results of the vaccine. This showed that it was 94.5 percent effective in preventing people from contracting coronavirus.
Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used any methods in their vaccination trials by which they could tell for sure whether their shots prevented transmission.
Although the studies are still ongoing, early data AstraZeneca released on Monday suggests that the vaccine developed by Oxford University might actually prevent the spread of viruses.
Moderna knows its vaccine can prevent coronavirus disease, but its studies haven't shown if the shot prevents people from becoming asymptomatic spreaders
"Our results show that this vaccine can prevent you from getting sick and that you can get seriously ill," Zaks told Axios.
"They don't show that this vaccine can prevent you from potentially transmitting the virus temporarily and infecting others."
Like most vaccines, Moderna doesn't kill the virus if you breathe it in, so the shot itself won't eliminate the virus.
Instead, the aim is to prevent the virus from attaching to receptors in human cells, which allow the virus to enter these cells.
Viruses exist in a strange sort of purgatory between living and non-living things. In contrast to more complicated human cells, viruses cannot generate their own energy.
Instead, they have to hijack the machinery of human or animal cells, pirate that energy, and allow the virus to make copies of itself.
Without getting into our cells and taking them over for its own purposes, the virus cannot replicate.
And a lower viral load generally means the virus is less effective enough to infect others.
But Moderna has not proven that.
According to Science Magazine, Pfizer and Moderna only tested trial members who developed potential symptoms of COVID-19 symptoms for the virus.
Without knowing that other members of the studies might have been asymptomatic spreaders, it could not be known with certainty whether the vaccine prevented them from infecting others.
"When we start using this vaccine, we won't have enough concrete data to prove that this vaccine reduces transmission," Zaks said.
“Do I think it will prevent transmission? Absolutely yes, but I saw this because of science.
"But with no evidence, I think it's important that we change our behavior based on not just vaccinations," added Zaks, suggesting that Americans continue to use non-medical methods like wearing masks and social distancing to help prevent the spread contain the coronavirus.
Moderna will continue to collect data if the shot receives emergency clearance. This additional data can tell the company whether its shot can prevent the virus from spreading.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca had all study participants wiped at home to test whether the vaccine prevented people from having communicable coronavirus or just prevented the virus from making them sick.
The trials continue, but the company said Monday the data looks promising that the shot could prevent it from spreading.