A US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday backed Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to accept the recommendation, and the vaccine, which is said to be 94% effective, could begin being administered as soon as next week.
The recommendation, which came from an independent panel of experts known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, comes a week after the backing and subsequent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna applied for FDA emergency approval late last month. Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines are experimental RNA vaccines. They use synthetic messenger RNA, or mRNA, a molecule that tells cells how to build proteins. They can then trick cells into producing proteins typically found in SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This in turn stimulates the immune system, without making patients sick, to protect against infection.
Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, Moderna’s can be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 days, making it more easily accessible. US officials reportedly said earlier this week that they plan to ship around 6 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine if and when FDA emergency use authorization is granted.
Health care workers, who are among the people prioritized to get vaccinated, have already started receiving the Pfizer vaccine, which the pharmaceutical giant said demonstrated 95% effectiveness in clinical trials.
In a panel last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the sooner the US can convince the overwhelming majority of people to get vaccinated, the sooner things will be “close to normal.”
And experts say it’s critical to continue wearing a mask and to practice social distancing until enough Americans get vaccinated, which is still several months away.
There are several dozen coronavirus vaccines in various stages of clinical trials, with some almost ready to be submitted for potential authorization. Most specialists say we’ll have many more ready to distribute by early next year.
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China a year ago this month. By March, a pandemic was in full force. According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard, over 74 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and more than 1.6 million people have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday…Read more>>