The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Regulators had earlier deemed the vaccine, which provides 94% protection against the novel coronavirus, to be “safe and effective.”
The vaccination was approved unanimously for use on adults over the age of 18, with advisory members voting 20-0 that the benefits outweigh the risks. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn expressed optimism at the current path of progress, saying the vaccine’s approval signals “another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic that is causing vast numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each day.”
President-elect Joe Biden, who is scheduled to be vaccinated on Monday, also expressed optimism. He said that the authorization “assures us that brighter days lie ahead,” while also cautioning Americans that “the fight against Covid-19 is not yet over.” Biden further added, “We know the immense challenges ahead, including scaling up manufacturing, distribution, and the monumental task of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans. We need to make sure we have the resources to do all of this and to do it quickly.”
The vaccine is the second to be approved by the FDA after the Pfizer vaccine, which the US has already begun to roll out en masse, with healthcare professionals and nursing home residents being the first receivers of the jab. Next in line are the elderly and immunocompromised, followed by essential workers, who are subsequently followed by the general population. The Moderna vaccine is perhaps more widely distributable than the Pfizer vaccine because it requires storage temperatures of -20C, whereas the latter vaccine necessities a much more difficult -75C.
The vaccine approval certainly comes at an ideal time, for the US has perhaps been hit harder by the virus than any other nation in the world. The 310,000 domestic deaths comfortably surpass the death count of any other nation, and the same is true of the 17 million recorded coronavirus infections.
Experts estimate that widespread public immunization to the novel coronavirus may be achieved by the early days of summer 2021. The approval of the Modern vaccine will undoubtedly make this process easier and quicker. Thus far, the US has agreed to purchase 200 million doses of the vaccine, which will be enough to vaccinate 100 million people, since one person requires two doses three weeks apart to be immunized. An estimated 3 million doses are ready to be delivered to the US immediately. The US has also already agreed to purchase 100 million Pfizer vaccines, although more doses of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines may be secured in the future.