Just as Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines are being distributed fast and furiously for the first time, Moderna is on the brink of filling the national demand, too.
Modern’s vaccine made an important advancement toward distribution Thursday when a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 20-0, with one abstention, in support of the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine was granted emergency use authorization a day after also receiving the backing of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, made up of outside vaccine and infectious disease experts.
The move projects to have Moderna vaccines in distribution by next week. Gen. Gustave Perna told reporters on Monday that the U.S. planned to ship nearly 6 million Moderna doses next week if the vaccine received FDA approval. The committee’s decisions on the safety of a vaccine often lead to authorization.
“I don’t want people to interpret this the same way they would a licensed vaccine,” committee member Dr. Cody Meissner, an infectious diseases expert at Tufts University School of Medicine told CNBC, adding that his endorsement is “based on the available evidence, but that’s limited.”
With the emergency use authorization, the vaccine can be implemented while more data is being evaluated. The FDA normally requires three times as much safety data as what Moderna has submitted thus far. Late-stage trials showed that the two-dose Moderna vaccine to be 94% effective.
If a flu vaccine only reduces the risk of acquiring influenza by 40% to 60%, then America is probably going to be fine with a coronavirus vaccine at 94% or anywhere near that number.