With federal emergency use authorization pending, the United States could have two vaccines ready for use in the coming weeks.
U.S. health officials are expected to review a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc next week.
The vaccine, developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, uses the same basic inoculation approach as another vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which has spearheaded government clearance requests around the world.
Clinical studies have shown that Moderna’s vaccine is about 94% effective.
Meanwhile, a review of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found no red flags, the agency said on Tuesday. Outside advisers from the agency are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the vaccine’s recommendation for emergency use. They will meet again on December 17th to discuss the same for Moderna.
If both vaccines are licensed, the United States could have two vaccines ready for use in the coming weeks.
Like Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna’s vaccine uses synthetic ribonucleic acid (RNA) messengers that use the genetic code of the coronavirus to trick human cells to generate a so-called “spike” protein found outside the virus.
The process triggers an immune response from the body, which eventually stops the actual coronavirus from attaching itself to cells.
Moderna’s vaccine will require two injections, which should be given 28 days apart. Like its counterpart Pfizer-BioNTech, it must also remain in a cold room before use, which poses logistical questions related to shipping and storage.
However, Moderna’s vaccine remains stable for six months at a negative temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit (less than four degrees Fahrenheit) and for 30 days in a standard medical refrigerator, according to the company.
During this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be stored at approximately -70 ° C (-94 ° F) to remain stable for 30 days and only last for five days in standard refrigeration.
This difference could make Moderna more suited to distribution in rural areas, with the company’s technical operations manager and quality manager saying in a November statement that the difference “would allow for simpler distribution and more flexibility to facilitate vaccination on a larger scale in the United States and other parts of the world “.
The United States paid $ 1 billion to support Moderna vaccine development as part of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed and spent an additional $ 1.5 billion to secure 100 million doses of the vaccine .
The company has said it is ready to deliver 20 million doses by the end of the year and plans to make 100 to 125 million doses of the vaccine available globally in the first four months of 2021.
While the U.S. government has said initial doses will be administered at no cost to the patient, Moderna said people in other countries could pay up to $ 37 per dose, depending on the size of the order.
Like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, it is still unclear how long the Moderna vaccine will protect patients from COVID-19, but data showed those who received the vaccine still had the antibodies needed to fight the coronavirus three months longer. late.
It is also not known whether those who have received the vaccine can still spread the virus.