The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making the United States the first country to have approved two vaccines against the virus.
Its authorization follows an FDA panel’s overwhelming vote on Thursday to endorse the vaccine.
Distribution could begin within hours, providing hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country with thousands of much-needed doses.
Moderna said that it was prepared to distribute nearly six million doses once its vaccine was given authorization, more than twice the amount initially distributed by Pfizer last weekend.
The Moderna vaccine’s path to FDA authorization mirrored that of Pfizer’s vaccine, which was granted emergency approval last Friday. The same advisory panel voted to recommend Pfizer’s vaccine a day earlier, and the FDA released data reaffirming both vaccines’ safety and efficacy exactly a week apart.
Though the United States followed several countries in authorizing the Pfizer vaccine, it is the first to approve Moderna’s. Both have proved about 95 percent effective.
Both vaccines were developed and authorized in fewer than 11 months, shattering every preexisting record related to vaccine creation, authorization and distribution.
Authorization was granted to Pfizer as public confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine rose for the third straight month after hitting a low point in late summer.
Sixty-three percent of Americans said that they were willing to receive a vaccine when given the opportunity, according to Gallup’s latest poll.
The virus has infected over 17.2 million Americans and killed over 311,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
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