A second coronavirus vaccine is approaching emergency approval in the US after it has been approved by a panel of experts.
The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said his agency would immediately approve the Modern vaccine, allowing the company to start sending millions of doses.
It comes days after the US launched its largest vaccination campaign with the release of jab Pfizer / BioNTech.
What Did The FDA Say?
The US has recorded more Covid-19 deaths and infections than any other country.
Earlier this week, the death toll rose to 300,000.
The advisory team on Thursday voted 20-0 with the exception of one claiming that the benefits of the modern vaccine outweigh the risks for those 18 years and older. The committee last week approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which led to its approval for emergency use the following day.
After approval by the panel, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said his company had informed Moderna that it would work “immediately” in authorizing emergency use.
Authorities reported earlier this week that the Moderna vaccine is 94% safe and effective.
The United States has agreed to purchase 200 million doses, and six million may be ready to ship as soon as the vaccine is approved by the FDA.
“Going from having a viral load in January to having two vaccines available in December is a huge success,” said Dr. James Hildreth, a member of the panel of experts and CEO of Meharry Medical College Tennessee.
Difference From Pfizer Vaccine
Moderna vaccine requires temperatures around -20C for delivery – similar to a standard refrigerator.
Pfizer jab requires temperatures close to -75C, making transportation more difficult.
Like Pfizer jab, Moderna vaccine also requires a second supplement. Moderna’s second injection comes 28 days after the first.
The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has said that if approved, “most of” its vaccine will be made there.
Pfizer’s drug is made in many countries, including Germany and Belgium.
What other countries have prescribed the Modern vaccine?
In Canada, the government plans to receive two million doses of Moderna in March – a total of 56 million doses.
The UK has already ordered seven million doses of the modern vaccine.
The European Union last month announced a contract to buy 80 million doses – with a chance of buying up to 80 million more – if the drug is considered safe and effective.
Japan has registered 50 million doses for Moderna, South Korea has received 20 million, and Switzerland has ordered 7.5 million, according to data compiled by Duke University Global Health Innovation Center.
Who Are Given Priority?
The United States launched its Covid-19 vaccine earlier this week, after receiving emergency approval for a vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German counterpart BioNTech.
The vaccination program aims to reach 100 million people by April.
New York nurse Sandra Lindsay was one of the first people in the country to receive a coronavirus vaccine when it was first released on Monday. Documents of his vaccination were circulated in the Twitter feed of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose country was the epicenter of the US epidemic on the first wave earlier this year.
“I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part,” Ms Lindsay said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says health care workers should be given priority, as are Americans living in long-term care.
Key workers are expected to follow suit, but it will be up to the government to decide which industries to prioritize.
Moncef Slaoui, chief scientist at Operation Warp Speed, says young and old should be at the back of the line.
At least 70% or 80% of US people need to be vaccinated to protect their herd, he said.