The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.
As expected, after an independent panel commissioned by management recommended its approval earlier this week. This is the second vaccine now licensed for use in the United States under the EUA, after approval last week of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine for Americans is expected to begin “Monday or Tuesday” next week, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking to NBC’s Today program in a new interview.
This is in line with schedules between Pfizer EUA and the first patients who already received the vaccine last week.
Moderna is an mRNA treatment like Pfizer’s vaccine. This means that it does not contain an actual virus – only genetic instructions that tell a person’s body to make a specific protein. This protein is somewhat identical to the protein that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, uses to bind to host cells and reproduce.
The Moderna vaccine causes a person to only produce protein, which is harmless on their own, and then their natural defenses through the immune system react to that and develop a way to combat it. This defense system is “remembered” by the body, while the vaccine itself dissolves naturally after a short time, leaving the person with immunity to the disease but nothing else.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the United States, as it uses the weak, normalized cold virus that does not spread in humans to produce the spike protein in recipients, causing the body to generate its own immune response.
This method is much more tried and tested to create a vaccine, but mRNA therapies from Moderna and Pfizer have proven effective in preliminary data from currently large phase 3 clinical trials.