A federal panel of outside experts on Thursday voted 20 to 0 to endorse a coronavirus vaccine from Moderna and recommended the FDA move forward with emergency authorization. One member abstained from the vote to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 18 and older.
The full FDA and a CDC panel both still have to sign off on the panel’s recommendation, but based on the track taken by the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, the FDA could grant emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine as soon as Friday.
With the second vaccine now available, health officials estimate that could deliver enough doses to vaccinate 20 million people with the first dose by the end of this year.
Moderna’s vaccine does not have to be stored in the extremely frigid conditions that the Pfizer vaccine does so creates fewer logistical challenges. The Moderna vaccine can remain stable for up to 30 days at the same temperature as a standard refrigerator.
Gen. Gustave Perna, the CEO of Operation Warp Speed, on Monday said the administration plans to ship 6 million doses out to 3,285 locations across the country in the first week of the vaccine’s authorization.
Unlike Pfizer, Moderna’s vaccine was developed with federal financial support from Operation Warp Speed, which has invested $4.1 billion into its development and distribution.
“My Administration has initiated the single greatest mobilization in U.S. history — pioneering, developing, and manufacturing therapies and vaccines in record time,” President Donald Trump said.
The first doses of the vaccines are being given to healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes. It could be several months, if not longer, before the vaccines are available for the general public.
At least until then, citizens need to continue to social distance. Avoid unnecessary social contact as much as possible. Stay at home whenever possible and always wear a mask when in a public place or when within six feet of persons who do not live in your home. Citizens are being asked to forego Christmas parties and gatherings with extended family over the holidays to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
To this point, more than 1.6 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide, and millions more have become ill in the global pandemic. In the United States, more than 17.5 million people have been diagnosed with the virus and 317,524 have died from COVID-19, including 4,254 Alabamians.