US experts recommend emergency approval for second Covid-19 vaccine

Dec, 18th 2020 – A US panel of experts has voted to recommend the emergency approval of a second coronavirus vaccine. This means the Moderna vaccine could start being administered in the US as early as next week. The vote came days after the country began its rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

The advisory panel voted that the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweigh the risks for those aged 18 and over. They also backed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which led to its authorization for emergency use a day after.

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said that his agency had informed Moderna that it would work “rapidly” towards issuing emergency use authorization. Earlier this week, regulators reported that the Mordena vaccine was safe and 94 percent effective. The US has agreed to purchase 200 million doses and six million could be ready to ship as soon as the vaccine gets FDA approval.

Dr James Hildreth, a member of the expert panel and CEO of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee said, “To go from having a sequence of a virus in January to having two vaccines available in December is a remarkable achievement.”

Comparing the two vaccines, Moderna vaccine requires temperatures of around -20C for shipping which is similar to a normal freezer unlike the Pfizer jab that requires temperatures closer to -75C, thus making transport logistics much more difficult.

A similarity in the two vaccines is that they both require a second booster shot. Mordena’s second shot comes 28 days after the first one. New York nurse Sandra Lindsay who was among the first people in the country to receive the jab said, “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”

The US has recorded more Covid-19 cases and deaths than any other country. Earlier this week, its coronavirus fatality toll passed 300,000.

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