As expected, the US Food and Drug Administration granted Moderna an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine December 18.
There is one final step — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will need to recommend its use, as it did 2 days after the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine received its EUA on December 10.
The EUA for the Moderna vaccine is “a major milestone in trying to contain this pandemic,” Hana Mohammed El Sahly, MD, told Medscape Medical News.
Scaling up distribution of the two vaccine products will come next. She notes that even under less emergent conditions, making sure people who need a vaccine receive it can be hard. “I hope the media attention around this will make more people aware that there are vaccines that might help them,” said El Sahly, chair of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC).
The EUA for the Moderna vaccine follows a review by the independent VRBPAC members on December 17, which voted 20-0 with one abstention to recommend the EUA. The vaccine is authorized for use in people 18 and older.
Emergency approval of a second COVID-19 vaccine “is great — we need all the tools we can to fight this pandemic,” Stephen Schrantz, MD, infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, told Medscape Medical News. “The early data coming from Moderna looks good, and I agree with the FDA that an EUA is indicated.
“It’s incumbent upon all us healthcare professionals to put ourselves out there as supporting this vaccine and supporting people getting it,” Schrantz continued. “We want to make sure people who are on the fence understand this is a safe vaccine that has been vetted appropriately through the FDA and through phase 3 clinical trials.”
“I know the critical role physicians play as vaccine influencers,” AMA President Susan Bailey, MD, said during a December 14 webinar for journalists reporting on COVID-19 vaccines. “We have to continue to do what physicians have always done: review the evidence and trust the science. Lives are at stake.” The webinar was cosponsored by the AMA and the Poynter Institute.