Dr. Anthony Fauci said he anticipates seeing "shots in the arm by the very early part of next week"

By Georgia Slater
December 18, 2020 10:40 AM
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Moderna coronavirus vaccine
| Credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to surge across the country, progress on a second vaccine was made Thursday when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) overwhelmingly endorsed Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

A panel of FDA advisers recommended, in a 20-0 vote with one abstention, that the FDA move forward and authorize the Moderna vaccine for emergency use, The New York Times reported.

The FDA will now "rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization," a press update said Thursday.

Clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine showed that the shot is more than 94 percent effective in preventing the virus, according to the Associated Press.

"The evidence that has been studied in great detail on this vaccine highly outweighs any of the issues we’ve seen," Dr. Hayley Gans, an FDA advisory panelist, said.

Formal approval from the FDA is expected on Friday, after which Moderna can begin shipping millions of doses around the country starting this weekend.

Moderna is the second company to seek approval from the FDA after Pfizer, whose coronavirus vaccine has already been approved and has been administered to thousands of people starting this week.

According to the Times, the Moderna vaccine can be distributed more widely as it can be stored at a normal freezer temperature whereas Pfizer's must be kept in ultracold storage.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, said Friday morning on Today that he anticipates the two-dose Moderna vaccine to move along quickly.

"We likely will see shots the arm by the very early part of next week," he said. "I would hope Monday or Tuesday but we just have to wait to see for the final decision. But very soon, literally within a few days."

On Monday, the first Americans were inoculated with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine after the two-dose vaccine was approved for emergency use by the FDA last Friday.

The first vaccine went to an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City, one of the hospitals that was hit the hardest by COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Over time, millions more will receive Pfizer's vaccine.

Prior to the Pfizer vaccine's FDA approval, Fauci said that the majority of Americans who wish to get vaccinated should be able to by April or May of next year.

"By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated," he told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview on Nov. 30.

Fauci added, "I would think as we get to April and May that we likely would have, for those who want to get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of the people that want to get vaccinated."

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 17.2 million reported COVID-19 cases and at least 310,935 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses in the United States, according to a New York Times tracker.

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