Just three days after receiving an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the new Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 is beginning to ship out.
The federal government expects to roll out nearly 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week between the new vaccine and another produced by Pfizer, according to Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed.
So far, the U.S. has distributed nearly 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and more than 500,000 people, mostly on the front lines, have received the first of their two-dose vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Pfizer’s vaccine, the first in the U.S., was approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11. That vaccine is already being distributed and put into use. The FDA on Dec. 18 also approved Moderna’s EUA request.
Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 95% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, the same as Pfizer’s. The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
A key advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it does not need sub-zero storage like Pfizer’s, which needs to be stored at -94 degrees.
A third vaccine is also in the pipeline. AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Nov. 23 said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective, and the makers claim it will be easier to distribute.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Dec. 2 voted to direct that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the shots in the initial rollout — once federal regulators authorize use of a vaccine. The recommendation was approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield, but governors will eventually have the final say on who gets the vaccine first.
And on Sunday, the CDC recommended the next wave of vaccines go to front-line essential workers and people over the age of 75, a group that comprises more than 50 million people.
“Around 30 million first responders, teachers, food and agriculture workers, those in manufacturing, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit, and grocery store workers, as well as around 19million adults 75 and older were included,” the Daily Mail reported. “The [CDC] panel voted 13-1 in favor of the move that, in all, would make 49 million people eligible to receive the vaccine in the next round, known as Phase 1B.”
“The group also voted on a subsequent, third priority group, Phase 1C. Around 57 million non-frontline workers, like those in media, finance, energy and IT communication industries, and persons in the age group of 65-74 and those aged 16-64 years with high-risk conditions are proposed to receive the vaccine in the later round, as reported by Reuters,” the Mail wrote. “Those conditions include type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and certain heart conditions. The committee said people with chronic illnesses should speak with their doctor about their eligibility.”