Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine was cleared by US regulators on Friday, as it became the second to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month.
This is a piece of good news to a nation with a staggering COVID-19 death toll of over 307,000 lives lost.
The decision of the FDA to grant authorization for the use of the vaccine means that 2 of the 6 vaccine candidates identified by Operation Warp Speed are now available to the general public.
This authorization is coming a day after FDA’s panel of outside experts voted 20-0, with one absention, to endorse its use, and a week after the FDA authorized a vaccine from Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE.
The vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, based on similar technology, has been put into the arms of thousands of U.S. healthcare workers this week in a massive nationwide rollout. Moderna injections are expected to begin in coming days for adults 18 years old and up.
FDA Commissioner, Stephen Hahn, in a statement, said, “With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of COVID-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic that is causing vast numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each day.’’
The speed of vaccine development is a stunning scientific success, although there is some hesitancy among the public.
Top U.S. infectious disease scientist, Anthony Fauci, in a statement, said, “It is my hope that all Americans will protect themselves by getting vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to them. That is how our country will begin to heal and move forward.’’
Moderna said it intended to apply for full US approval in 2021, as the vaccine is also the first product from the company to get regulatory clearance for use.
Moderna’s vaccine, just like the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, is based on messenger RNA technology that had not been previously used before. The vaccine was shown to be nearly 95% effective with no serious safety concerns.
The vaccine, developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, had relatively minor side effects including pain around the injection site and swelling.
The biotech company is working with the US government for the distribution of 5.9 million shots as early as this weekend.
Moderna’s shot is expected to be used in harder-to-reach locations, such as rural hospitals. The vaccine needs to be stored and shipped frozen, but does not require the ultra-cold temperatures of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter expressed delight at the authorization as he said, “Congratulations, the Moderna vaccine is now available! The vaccine must be transported to hospitals and other centres before injections begin.”
Moderna said it would deliver approximately 20 million doses to the U.S. government this year and expected to have between 100 million and 125 million globally in the first quarter of next year, with 85-100 million of those for the United States.
What you should know
It can be recalled that Moderna Inc, over a month ago, certified its Covid-19 vaccine to be almost 95% effective in treating coronavirus and was able to prevent the most severe infections. The Trump administration, through its Operation Warp Speed, made available over $950 million to Moderna to develop the vaccine.
The US government has deals with Moderna to spend billions of dollars to provide a total of 200 million doses by the end of June 2021. This should be enough to immunize 100 million people, and there is an option to procure another 300 million doses.
Other vaccines that are still being tested, include a one-shot injection from Johnson & Johnson, and a two-shot course from AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
President Buhari, Osibanjo to take Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday
President Buhari and his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo will receive shots of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday.
The Federal Government has announced that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, will receive shots of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday to demonstrate vaccine safety to the public.
This follows the country’s receipt of the first batch of about 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine under the COVAX initiative and the planned launch of the national vaccination campaign.
This disclosure was made by the Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, at the second edition of the State House briefing in Abuja on Thursday, which is focused on Nigeria’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s national vaccination strategy.
He said that the exercise will boost the confidence of Nigerians to receive the about 4 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine that arrived in the country 2 days ago.
Shuaib said, “The next step in the vaccination programme given that we’ve now received the vaccines is a launch that will be taking place at the National Hospital tomorrow. The time scheduled for that launch is 10 am. The launch will be conducted by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, (Boss Mustapha).
“The plan is to vaccinate the frontline health workers that work in the treatment centre of the National Hospital, those will be the first people just like we’ve communicated that frontline health workers will be the first people to take the vaccines.
“Launch of National vaccination campaign will take place at the National Hospital Abuja, Friday, March 5, 2021, with Frontline health workers.
On Saturday, the plan is to vaccinate Mr President, Mr Vice-President and strategic leaders, to demonstrate vaccine safety to the public.
Again, we are hopeful that when Nigerians see leaders like Mr President and Mr Vice-President take the vaccines; it will increase their confidence around the safety of the vaccines.
“As you are well aware that even before the vaccines arrived in Nigeria, there is a lot of hesitancy. It is a global phenomenon. Vaccine hesitancy is similar no matter where you are, you have to provide the right information and to those people who have questions, we cannot dismiss their cynicism.’’
The NPHCDA boss also said that state governments must certain requirements and obligations before the Covid-19 vaccines will be released to them.
He said, ‘’States have requirements and obligations to fulfil before the Covid vaccines will be released to them. They have to demonstrate they have taken steps to ensure proper storage, security, etc.’’
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the much-awaited AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja around noon on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, onboard an Emirates airline.
- The receipt of the 3.92 million doses of the vaccine is the first batch from the over 16 million doses allocated to Nigeria through the COVAX initiative, aimed at vaccinating about 20% of the population.
CEO @NphcdaNG: Launch of National vaccination campaign will take place at the National Hospital, Abuja, Fri March 5, 2021, with Frontline health workers
On Saturday the plan is to Vaccinate Mr. President & the VP and strategic leaders, to demonstrate vaccine safety to the public
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) March 4, 2021
Covid-19: Governors to discuss distribution of vaccines today
Governors of the 36 states of the federation will today meet to discuss the sharing formula for the recently delivered Covid-19 vaccine.
The Nigerian Governors Forum has announced that all 36 Governors will meet today to discuss the distribution of the recently arrived 3.9 million Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX programme.
This was disclosed by the NGF in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Head, Media and Public Affairs of the NGF Secretariat.
The NGF disclosed that the meeting, which would be held virtually, will commence by 5 pm.
“The meeting is of a single-item agenda, which will discuss the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution in the country,” he said.
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported on Monday that 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.
- The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) also released guidelines on registering for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria.
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