The U.S. added a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency release of the Moderna vaccine.
The move marks the world’s first authority for Moderna photography. It comes with daily deaths in the country hitting all-time highs, down from 3,600 on Wednesday. The virus has claimed over 312,000 U.S. lives. New cases run at over 216,000 per day on average.
Moderna has around 5.9 million doses ready for launch over the weekend.
In a study of 30,000 volunteers, the Moderna vaccine was more than 94% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in people 18 and older. It is also strongly protected by older, more vulnerable adults.
US President Donald Trump announced the agreement on Twitter.
“Today’s emergency use permit by the Moderna Food and Drug Administration Vaccine COVID-19 is another milestone in our battle to overcome the crisis facing our country today,” said President Joe Biden in a statement.
Biden is expected to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine publicly on Monday.
What’s the difference between Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines?
Both images are called mRNA vaccines, made with state-of-the-art technology. They do not contain coronavirus – meaning they cannot become infected. Instead, they use a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to identify the spike protein on the surface of the virus, ready to attack if the real thing comes up.
Early results show that all vaccines appear safe and strongly protected although Moderna is easier to handle as it does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures.
Both the new Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech strain require two doses several weeks apart. The second dose must be from the same company as the first.
The inoculated cannot throw away their masks because it is not yet clear that a vaccine prevents the spread of a silent, asymptomatic virus. But there was a hint that the Moderna bullet could provide some protection from asymptomatic diseases.
Moderna’s study found no major safety issues. Similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech picture, expect sore arms, fever, fatigue and muscle aches, which are signs that the immune system is up.
Both vaccines have an “isolated possibility” of causing a severe allergic reaction. Moderna’s study found none of these, although a few were reported in Britain as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines went ahead and the FDA is looking into five in the US.
Both vaccines are still experimental, and authorities are closely monitoring safety in case problems arise.
Where do other countries stand in their immunization strategies?
The FDA’s decision could help pave the way for other countries considering the Moderna vaccine. European regulators could allow it to be used as early as January 6.
Moderna expects between 100 million and 125 million doses to be available worldwide in the first three months of 2021.
Britain, Canada and a few other countries have already cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech bullet, with a decision from the European Union due on Monday.