Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is the next to be considered for emergency use authorization in the United States after the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech was approved last week.
Shipments of a second vaccine are likely to coming soon as the FDA gives authorization for the Moderna vaccine.
“The FDA found no serious safety concerns with the Moderna vaccine and affirmed its 95% efficacy,” Gov. JB Pritzker said.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are similar in terms of dosage. Both vaccines require two doses with three weeks in between for Pfizer and four weeks for Moderna. However, they differ in storage. Moderna does not require extremely low temperatures. It is likely that the Pfizer vaccine stays at hospitals when it comes to distribution.
“Using that to vaccinate healthcare workers makes more sense than taking that to the long-term care facilities, so it might be that Moderna is used more for that upfront than the Pfizer vaccine,” said Dr. Stephen Schrantz, University of Chicago Medicine.
Moderna has yet to reveal details about its vaccine and distribution plan. Unlike Pfizer, Moderna is a small company that will work with outside contractors.
“The whole distribution plan with Moderna is very different from Pfizer because essentially there is a company called McKesson that is going to handle the entire distribution of the vaccine,” said Hani Mahmassani, director of Northwestern University Transportation.
When Moderna arrives at its destination points, handling the vaccine will be easier than Pfizer due to the less extreme temperature requirements, according to Professor Mahmassani. The Moderna vaccine will be coming from the East Coast instead of Michigan and Wisconsin, where the Pfizer vaccine is located, Mahmassani added.
“From day one, when people ask me, ‘What can go wrong?’ I said, ‘Weather,'” Mahmassani said.
The vaccine will likely not be from Moderna or Pfizer by the time most people get the vaccine. Experts said there will likely be another vaccine in the pipeline that requires one dose and regular refrigeration.