WASHINGTON (CN) — The Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s vaccine for Covid-19 Friday evening, making it the second vaccine authorized for use in the United States, a nation which continues to reel from the respiratory virus that has now killed over 310,000.
In conjunction with the White House’s Operation Warp Speed program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA are now poised to begin the coordination of vaccine distribution efforts as soon as next week.
General Gustave Perna, the lead on Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine distribution arm, said earlier this week that shipment might include six million doses.
The decision to begin circulating the Moderna vaccine comes after a day-long public hearing on its safety and efficacy.
Clinical trials confirmed the company’s anti-Covid-19 cocktail is 94.1% effective and just 24 hours ago, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the FDA’s independent council of researchers and health experts, evaluated vaccine data at length, agreeing in the majority that it is safe for use among adults 18 and older.
Doses of the vaccine begin to make their way through the U.S. in super cold storage on the heels of injections being doled out to senior members of the White House like Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence. Surgeon General Jerome Adams was also vaccinated with the Pences on Friday.
The trio took their injections in a live televised broadcast in a bid to instill trust in the vaccine.
Side effects from Moderna’s vaccine have been largely limited to ailments like fatigue and soreness at the injection site and headaches. There have been nominal incidents where clinical trial participants experienced more severe side effects, including developing Bell’s palsy or temporary drooping of the facial muscles.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to be vaccinated as soon as next week. When asked when he would take the shot, he told reporters at a press event in Delaware that he didn’t “want to get ahead of the line.”
“But I want to make sure we demonstrate that to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said. “When I do it, I’ll do it publicly so you can all witness my getting it done.”
Members of the Biden-Harris transition team have underlined that any delay behind Biden’s taking the vaccine is simply a matter of scheduling a time for the incoming president, who is hurtling ever faster to inauguration, to receive his injection on camera.
Biden has emphasized repeatedly since Pfizer’s vaccine first began distribution that he has no hesitation to take it and has encouraged others to do the same.
The estimated timeline for vaccinations is shaping up to be February for those in hospitals and nursing homes and from March to April, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, the rest of the U.S. could begin to see vaccinations circulating more regularly.