FDA advisory panel meeting Thursday to discuss Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 5:40 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 08:07:52-05

(WXYZ) — An FDA advisory panel is turning its focus Thursday morning to the Moderna vaccine, which is next up for review and possible emergency use authorization.

The panel is set to meet at 9 a.m. to discuss Moderna's vaccine, and approval could come any time after that. The Pfizer shot was rubber-stamped a week ago.

Once and if Moderna is also green-lighted, six million doses could start to roll out as soon as next week.

Americans could soon have two options when it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses – Pfizer’s 21 days after the first, Moderna's 28 days after.

Director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health Dr. Matthew Sims says one of the biggest differences between the vaccines, which work in your body the same way, is storage. Pfizer’s must be stored in very low temperatures, requiring special freezers.

“The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a normal freezer or normal refrigerator, which means that eventually once we’re vaccinating a bigger portion of the population," said Dr. Sims, "The Moderna one is going to be easy to give to people,"

If and when the FDA authorizes emergency use, Moderna's vaccine could go right to pharmacies or doctor’s offices, Dr. Sims says.

“The studies on the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine were very similar in terms of how well they worked," he notes.

Pfizer’s has a slight edge in efficacy during clinical trials – 95 percent effective compared to Moderna's 94 percent.

“You can’t really say there’s a difference between those until you vaccinate millions of people potentially," Sims said.

National health leaders anticipating the average American might not have access until mid-2021, but the Health and Human Services secretary says confidence in the vaccine is growing. "It's clear that many Americans are learning that these vaccines are safe and extraordinarily effective," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

While the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for Americans 16 and older, Moderna is asking for authorization for Americans 18 and older.

Possible minor side effects for both are the same: Injection site pain, fatigue, headache and chills.

Once you’re eligible to get the vaccine, you won’t get a choice. It will depend on availability.