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CORONAVIRUS

US close to granting emergency approval to Moderna vaccine

A panel of experts at the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended the drugs regulator grant emergency approval to the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
A panel of experts at the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended the drugs regulator grant emergency approval to the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. AP - Hans Pennink

The United States is on the verge of having two Covid-19 vaccines approved for emergency use after an expert advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) overwhelmingly recommended giving Moderna’s vaccine the green light.

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The American biotech company learned late Thursday the FDA was working towards the “finalisation and issuance” of an emergency approval for its product, developed alongside the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The official decision, expected Friday, will make the US the first country to have authorised two coronavirus vaccines – after the Pfizer/BioNTech jab earlier won approval.  

The move will boost the US’s national vaccination campaign and help the administration of Donald Trump meet its goal of producing enough doses to innoculate 20 million people by the end of the year.

Analysis by the FDA found Moderna’s vaccine to be more than 94 percent effective at preventing Covid-19 in a trial of more than 30,000 participants, adding it had a "favorable safety profile".

While there have been reports of severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since it was rolled out in the UK, Moderna’s phase 3 clinical trial showed no cases of anaphylaxis.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires ultracold storage, the Moderna shot can be stored at normal freezer temperatures, making distribution easier.

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