Moderna Awaits FDA Approval for COVID Vaccine, Mass. Awaits Doses

Parts of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine were made in plants in Norwood, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Massachusetts is slated to receive 120,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine over the next few weeks as the Cambridge-based biotech company awaits federal approval as early as Friday.

An influential Food and Drug Administration advisory panel overwhelmingly backed Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, a key step paving the way to distribute the second Covid-19 vaccine in the United States next week. The U.S. plans to ship just under 6 million doses next week, pending the agency's approval.

Parts of the vaccine were made in plants in Norwood, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Switzerland and put together in Indiana. It was then shipped to holding centers in Louisville and Memphis. The vaccine is ready to be shipped once given the green light.

“We look forward to getting our vaccine to people in the U.S. to help address this ongoing public health emergency,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said.

Moderna and Pfizer have now both reported that their COVID-19 vaccines have been highly effective in trials. But how do they work, and what are the differences between the two? Benjamin Neuman, a professor of biological studies at Texas A&M, breaks down the specifics of both vaccines.

Like Pfizer’s, the Moderna vaccine is close to 95% effective. It requires two doses. But unlike Pfizer’s, Moderna’s vaccine doesn't need to be stored in ultra-cold conditions. It can be kept in a standard refrigerator, which could allow for wider distribution.

“I think it changes it a lot,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “Your pharmacy, your doctor’s office, they don’t have they don’t have the ultra-low temperature storage. Everyone has a freezer, a regular freezer. So the Moderna vaccine might be a lot more accessible.”

Rubin is on the FDA's outside advisory committee for vaccines and vouched for the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine.

Which vaccine is better, Pfizer’s or Moderna’s?

“The vaccine that’s best is the one that you can get,” Rubin said.

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