Vaccines from Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE) (BNTX) are "highly effective" in preventing COVID-19 infections among essential workers, health officials said Monday, while warning the U.S. is facing "impending doom" from rising cases of the disease.
Rochelle Walensky, a physician who directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a Monday press briefing made her comments as the number of COVID-19 cases began to climb again.
“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said.
Many states are easing their pandemic restrictions and more Americans are traveling.
The U.S. is seeing a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases a day, up 16% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 550,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Monday, with 30.3 million cases reported.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared," Walensky said.
Meanwhile, the CDC said that a new study provided strong evidence that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing infections "in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers."
The results showed the risk of infection was reduced by 90% following the second dose of the vaccine, which is the recommended number of doses, two or more weeks after vaccination.
"This study shows that our national vaccination efforts are working," Walensky said in a statement.
The infection risk was reduced 80% following a single dose of either vaccine, two or more weeks after vaccination.
The study looked at the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines across 3,950 participants in six states over 13 weeks from Dec. 14, 2020 to March 13.
Participants provided nasal swabs each week for testing. A majority of infections occurred among people whose infections were identified by testing before they developed symptoms or knew they were infected.
The study demonstrates that the vaccines can reduce the risk of all infections, not just symptomatic ones.
Shares of Moderna at last check were off 8.2% to $112.46, while Pfizer was 1.2% higher at $36.39. BioNTech shares ticked up 0.4% to $96.13.
Moderna said on Monday it had completed the shipment of the first 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. government.
It also said it was on track to deliver a second batch of 100 million doses by the end of May, and a third batch by the end of July.
Pfizer said last week it had begun human safety testing of a new pill that could be used to treat COVID-19 when symptoms first occur.