A second vaccine moved closer to joining the fight of the United States against the for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic on Thursday as government advisers convened for a public review of its safety and effectiveness.
It’s the next-to-last step for the vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The panel of physicians and medical researchers is expected to endorse it, followed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval within hours or days.
The action would provide a boost to the largest vaccination effort in US history that kicked off this week. More shipments of the first green-lighted vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, were going out Thursday, earmarked for health care workers and nursing home residents around the country.
“This is coming much faster than what anybody thought,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman, of Georgetown University, former chief of the FDA’s vaccine division. “Something that might have otherwise taken several years – to take this new vaccine technology and test it and approve it – was compressed into within a year.”
But he added both vaccines have only been studied in volunteers for a few months and more follow-up is needed to answer important questions about the vaccine, such as how long protection lasts.
Moderna’s vaccine is largely following the same path as Pfizer-BioNTech’s, which relies on the same groundbreaking technology. Most traditional vaccines use dead or weakened virus, but both of the new vaccines use snippets of Covid-19’s genetic code to train the immune system to detect and fight the virus. Both require two doses, weeks apart.In scrutinizing early results of the study, the FDA found the vaccine was more than 94-percent effective overall at preventing Covid-19. No major safety problems appeared. Side effects typically seen with vaccinations were common, such as fever, fatigue and muscle aches. SOVEREIGNPH