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Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine timeline

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous, Brian Sozzi, and discuss the latest in the COVID-19 vaccine race.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is in high gear, but Moderna's CEO recently revealed what could happen if its vaccine isn't showing results by November. Our medical reporter Anjalee Khemlani is with us now. So Anjalee, what is Moderna's timeline here?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right, so Alexis, what we know is that Moderna has repeatedly said that they will likely get the first basically set of data indicating whether or not this vaccine works effectively and is safe by November, by Thanksgiving Day, but recently indicated that, you know, if that doesn't happen, the company would have to push out by about a month how much time it would take to then get the relevant data. And that would push its authorization to next year if all of that happens. So if it doesn't meet that sort of Thanksgiving deadline, we could see Moderna-- which as we know started off pretty strong in this race and was first for quite some time-- it could push back to being next year. And that leaves just Pfizer with BioNTech as the only one that is likely to get a vaccine approval, or sorry, authorization, by the end of this year.

BRIAN SOZZI: Anjalee, so much talk now on a third wave, totally skipped over the second wave, now we're looking at the third wave. Lots of data to digest. What are some of the most important stats people should be looking for?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right. So we know that there's been a lot of discussion about what has changed, really, since that first peak in April. Back then, we were looking at a lot of unknowns about the virus, and we saw just how much hospitals struggled with patients. And we saw that spike of deaths. Now as we get into this latest wave, there's so much more known, and we have a lot more confidence-- experts say-- in the system. While there still is going to be concerns about hospitalization and surges there, the death rate is something that is going to be probably less likely to increase. And that's because there have been a number of sort of medical protocols that have been put into place.

First of all, we know that we've heard about dexamethazone being effective, remdesivir, while it's not, you know, really the be-all end-all, does have some effect for some individuals. There's hope pinned on antibody treatments, and we also know that proning works, which is lying patients on their stomach. So that's reduced the need for ventilators. And with all of this in play, it has helped with the numbers in terms of death rates.

Now when you're talking about the most vulnerable individuals, those are still at risk. So there's still concern about death. So I don't want to make it sound like we're not worried about that. But at the same time, really, those hospital surges is what is key, because we saw how overwhelmed the health systems were. And while that is hitting now in the Northeast and other areas that were former hotspots, the concern is that that could replay out for this current upcoming wave.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Anjalee, we've seen the Midwest really struggling here with this latest wave of the virus. And I read this morning that the CDC is coming out and saying you need to wear masks if you're on any form of mass transit-- trains, buses ferries, you name it. Any other new guidelines? I mean, they seem to be changing somewhat frequently. Any other new guidelines that we should be aware of coming out of the CDC?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: No. As of right now, I think what they've repeatedly said is what they are trying to enforce, whether or not it is masking, social distancing, washing hands frequently. All those that have been in play have just been reiterated. And now it's more important than ever, because as we know, travel through air is one of the key ways that this moves. And one of the most recent sort of, I guess, epiphanies is that it does actually travel farther than 6 feet, and so that's why there's been a doubling-down on the idea of wearing masks and social distancing.

There have been some instances where, of course, we've seen at grocery stores, barriers put up-- but you know, Plexiglas barriers-- and so things like that have definitely come more into play as, you know, businesses continue to look for ways to reopen.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, Anjalee Khemlani, thank you.