A panel of outside advisers to the FDA overwhelmingly endorsed emergency use of Moderna vaccine, virtually assuring a second option for protecting against COVID-19 for a pandemic ravaged nation.
The committee voted 20-0 with one abstention that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks in people aged 18 and older, one week after the same panel backed a similar vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech leading to an FDA emergency use authorization a day later.
"Congratulations to us all for achieving this emergency use authorization for a second vaccine which along with other events will eventually and sooner will break the back of the pandemic."
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that 5.9 million doses have been allotted for states and large cities and were ready to be shipped nationwide in the United States.
Meanwhile, authorities in South Korea said today that they hope to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of the population by around November next year ahead of the start of the new influenza season.
Covid-19 vaccines, let's go in depth.
Joining us live in the studio is Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute.
Dr. Kim, thank you for coming on News In-depth.
A panel of independent experts recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the Moderna vaccine for emergency use.
The decision is set to be made on Friday, and the recommendation from this panel adds a significant push to clear way for some 5.9 million doses to be shipped around the US.
Being the second company allowed to begin inoculating the public, the Moderna vaccine can be distributed more widely because it can be stored at normal freezer temperatures and, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, does not require ultracold storage.
What does this mean? Is this all good news?
There have been news of vaccine side-effects are quite disturbing and concerning. A middle-aged healthcare worker in Alaska with no history of allergies had an anaphylactic reaction ten minutes after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. Two similar reactions happened last week in the UK.
Some trial volunteers of the Moderna vaccine which is set for FDA approval as early as Friday have also noted occasional harsh side effects.
How concerned should we be about adverse reactions being reported?
My understanding is that vaccines normally train the immune system to recognize the disease-causing part of a virus. So, vaccines traditionally contain either weakened viruses or purified signature proteins of the virus, am I right? But, mRNA vaccines the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are these are different. How do they work?
Does this mechanism of the mRNA vaccine make it more prone to more severe side effects?
Are there risks associated with vaccines made from genetic material called mRNA?
As more hospitals and pharmacies receive the Pfizer vaccine in the U.S., they've come to discover that some of the vials that are supposed to hold five doses contained enough for a sixth or even a seventh.
There was some confusion as to whether the extra doses should be used, taking into consideration the limited supply of vaccines, or to throw them out.
Is this a mishap? While mixing vials may not be safe, if there is a full dose left in a vial, shouldn't it not go to waste? How do you see this situation?
Prudence may be a good thing when it comes to new vaccines. And, of course, Covid-19 vaccines are as novel as they can get. But, as an average person, I will come clean with you. I am nervous and anxious to see other countries getting vaccinated already while we here in South Korea haven't yet seen our vaccine batches delivered.
What we do continue to see is, only, a rise in infections, more deaths, and bed shortages. Are we where we should be in terms of vaccine procurement?
Shouldn't we at least start to get the most vulnerable, meaning the elderly, and the most exposed, frontline healthcare workers, vaccinated right about now?
Today, health authorities here gave a timeline of getting 60 to 70 percent of the population getting vaccinated by November next year. What are your thoughts on this timeline?
While everybody is in line to get vaccinated at some point, children are not cleared to be inoculated.
And now anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a medicine or food is recommended to not get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Do you expect to see more of this trial-and-error approach of universal vaccine safety as more countries roll out vaccine programs?
We are still in the beginning stages of getting COVID-19 vaccines supplies distributed globally,
but is any work in progress for a treatment yet?
Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute, many thanks for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.