There are now two promising COVID-19 vaccines in development, and the top U.S. infectious diseases expert says one or the other could be available soon.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that the first vaccine doses would likely be deployed to individuals deemed most in need “by the end of December or the beginning of January.”
But there are nearly 330 million Americans, so that prompts the question: Who will be first in line to receive the vaccine?
“No decision has been made, but the consensus among many experts in the U.S. and globally is that health care workers should be first, said Sema Sgaier of the Surgo Foundation, a nonprofit group working on vaccine allocation issues,” The Associated Press reported.
“An expert panel advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] is also considering giving high priority to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions, and people age 65 and older,” said the AP.
The two vaccines still have to go through final testing and get approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at which time the CDC panel study clinical trial data to see side effects on people of various ages, ethnicities and health. After that, the CDC will decide who gets priority for the vaccine and state health services are expected to follow the CDC’s guidance.
A new Moderna vaccine that was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed is nearly 95% effective, according to the company.
“The analysis evaluated 95 confirmed Covid-19 infections among the trial’s 30,000 participants,” CNBC reported on Monday. “Moderna, which developed its vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said 90 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 5 cases observed in the group that received its two-dose vaccine. That resulted in an estimated vaccine efficacy of 94.5%.”
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said 20 million doses will be available by the end of the year, Fox News reported.
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said on Nov. 9 that its developmental vaccine for COVID-19 may be 90% effective at inoculating people against the disease.
The rate of effectiveness was calculated by analyzing early data from 94 trial participants in a study involving 43,538 subjects from all over the world. The small early sample means that the protection rate could change by the time the study ends and all the participants are accounted for, according to the AP.
A key advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it does not need sub-zero storage like Pfizer’s, which will make it easier to distribute.
“Overall, if both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are approved by the FDA, the U.S. could have as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available by the end of the year,” Fox reported. “[T]he government could have access to more than 1 billion doses from the two vaccine makers alone by 2021.”
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