Moderna becomes second company to ask for emergency vaccine approval

Coronavirus Vaccine

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Experts call it a stunning development, as the world looks to science for a way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data released Monday by drugmaker Moderna says not one of the 30,000 participants in human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed a severe case of the virus.

Citing a 94.1% efficacy rate, the company filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization. If approved, as it’s expected to be, the first Americans could be getting their shots on Dec. 21.

Moderna joins drugmaker Pfizer, which sought its own emergency use authorization Nov. 20. AstraZeneca is expected to run another global trial after producing a lower-than-expected efficacy rate of around 70%.

Some of the people who took part in the clinical trials have been talking about their experiences with NewsNation reporters, describing the side-effects they experienced — mild and flu-like in most cases. They’re also talking about why they wanted to get involved.

Len Hudson, 73, of Augusta, Kansas joined a COVID-19 study in July after losing a good friend to the virus.

“We’ve got to do whatever we need to do, each individually,” he said. “To get through this and past this.”

As a mass-inoculation program moves closer to reality, shippers like FedEx and DHL are preparing hubs in Chicago and Memphis to receive massive amounts of vaccines while maintaining perfect conditions. Pfizer’s product requires a storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderna says its vaccine remains stable at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a home refrigerator, for up to 30 days.

Dr. Carlos Del Rio of the Vaccine Center at Emory University’s School of Medicine says given the number of people requiring immunization, proper attention to logistics will crucial.

“I think the challenge is going to be the distribution, he said. “The challenge is going to be the administration. The challenge is going to be the storage.”

Scaling-up will be challenging as well, but one big pharmaceutical company understands, and in the case of these vaccines, is already addressing.

As we got word from the U.K. that its National Health Service may be just a few days away from greenlighting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Monday found British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has had COVID-19, toured an AstraZeneca plant with the capacity to produce up to 350 million doses a year.

“And this could -and I stress ‘could’- really be the salvation for humanity,” he said. “These vaccines, not just this one, but obviously all the vaccines that are currently being developed.”

As the FDA examines Moderna’s emergency use request, a panel that reports to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on who should get the first shots — a group likely to include nursing home residents along with front-line medical workers.

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