FDA aims for fast approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 shot after panel vote

The FDA is looking to quickly approve Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine after it was unanimously backed by a panel of experts.

Yesterday’s advisory panel meeting voted 20-0 in favour of approving Moderna’s vaccine and although the vote is non-binding, you could probably bet your house on the FDA backing the shot as it rarely goes against the advice of its experts after such strong backing.

The vaccine was also given a glowing review by FDA staffers in a briefing document posted ahead of the meeting and looks set to become the second COVID-19 vaccine to hit the US market after Pfizer/BioNTech’s rival was approved last week.

Pfizer’s vaccine was approved within a day of a positive vote from the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine has already begun and FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said the agency will work “rapidly” towards issuing an Emergency Use Authorization for Moderna’s shot.

The US has agreed to buy 200 million doses and there are six million doses ready move to ship as soon as the vaccine is officially approved.

Yesterday’s panel vote heard that the vaccine worked in 94% of cases, based on clinical data gathered so far, and is safe.

It is also slightly easier to move around – although it is an mRNA-based shot like Pfizer the storage temperature is around -20C, considerably less demanding than temperatures of around -75C required to maintain the integrity of its already-approved rival.

Moderna’s vaccine is also given in two shots, with the injections four weeks apart compared with the three-week interval required for Pfizer’s.

The UK has also pre-ordered seven million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is also being reviewed by the country’s regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Canada also plans to get two million doses by March, part of a total 56 million doses ordered from Moderna.

The European Union has also announced a contract to buy 80 million doses and an option to buy 80 million more once the vaccine is formally approved.

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