Awaiting FDA approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA is expected to grant emergency use authorization of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine – possibly Friday night.

By the time a vaccine becomes available to the general public – we may be talking about a whole new set of vaccines. But for now, the focus is on modern because it’s a lot easier to transport and distribute.

Two big breakthroughs. Two similar but distinct vaccines. One week after the FDA issued emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive similar treatment. 

Both vaccines are roughly 95% effective and require two doses.  Pfizer’s vaccine is administered 21 days apart, while Moderna's is 28 days. Then there’s the issue of storage:

"The Moderna vaccine in my mind is going to be the great equalizer because it is much kinder in terms of the requirements," said Jonathan Temte, the Associate Dean for Public Health and Community Engagement at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

During a State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) meeting Thursday, experts believe Moderna could be a game-changer. It does not require extreme cold like Pfizer; Moderna's is kept in temperatures similar to a freezer in your kitchen.

"It can go in virtually any pharmacy or any family practice vaccine freezer and be stable there and it comes in boxes of 100 doses instead of 975. So once that starts flowing, a lot of this allocation stuff will become a whole lot easier," Temte said.

Moderna’s vaccine is for adults 18 years and older, while Pfizer's skews slightly younger — at 16.  

"Even within UW Health, we’ve had a hospital that got it and another hospital nearby that didn’t get it, that caused angst," said Azita Hamedani, SDMAC Chair.

In Wisconsin, 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine should arrive next week – targeted primarily for nursing home residents.

The State of Wisconsin could start using this vaccine as soon as Dec. 28.

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