The United States on Friday authorized the emergency use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. The pharmaceutical company has six million doses ready for shipment to different US states badly affected by the pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Stephen Hahn said, “With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of COVID-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against the global pandemic”.
The FDA previously approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The first batch of the vaccines have already been distributed and used across the country.
President Donald Trump tweeted, “Congratulations, the Moderna vaccine is now available!”
Congratulations, the Moderna vaccine is now available!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2020
The US is the first country to approve the Moderna vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have already been used in Britain earlier this month, followed by several other countries including the US last week.
Singapore is also set to receive the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December.
Meharry Medical College President James Hildreth, who was part of a panel of experts convened by the FDA to discuss approval matters, said Thursday it was a “remarkable achievement” to have developed and authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines within the space of a year.
The two vaccines are seen to offer some hope to a country where frustration and desperation to curb the spread of the virus grows day after day.
Shipment of millions of Modern vaccine doses starts on Saturday from the cold storage sites outside Memphis and Louisville.
From there they will be delivered to sites around the country via partnerships with FedEx and UPS.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on cutting-edge mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, and both have been shown to be highly effective, protecting about 95 percent of people against Covid-19 compared to a placebo.
They have also been found to have no serious safety issues in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people each.
Both vaccines come with warnings for people who have histories of allergic reactions to their ingredients to avoid having them.
The FDA is also looking on cases of Bell’s palsy that has developed after four volunteers took the Pfizer vaccine during the trial.
VP Mike Pence vaccinated
After Trump said he would take the vaccine at an “appropriate time”, his Vice President, Mike Pence, received the vaccine on Friday morning on live TV.
Pence’s vaccination is part of federal efforts to build confidence among the public in the vaccine’s safety.
Second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams were also given the Pfizer vaccine.
“I didn’t feel a thing. Well done, and we appreciate your service to our country,” Pence said in remarks after being administered the vaccine.
“All of us have a role to play. The way through this challenging time is vigilance and a vaccine,” he said, calling on Americans to “continue to do your part” with mitigation strategies.
President Trump did not attend the ceremony, which took place on the White House complex.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will also be receiving the vaccine in a public setting, probably next week.
Some government officials have already been inoculated: Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller received his vaccine Monday afternoon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Getting the vaccine on live TV is the health authorities’ strategy to instill public trust in the vaccine. Many have expressed doubts and skepticism over the vaccines in the past months.
The percentage of Americans willing to take the vaccine is climbing, but it’s still lower among some key groups.
In September, 63% of Americans said they would “definitely or probably” get the vaccine. But that number was up to 71% in a Kaiser Family Foundation study released this week.