Moderna’s Covid vaccine has been granted emergency use authorisation by the Food and Drug Administration.
It becomes the second company to get the go ahead, joining Pfizer, whose vaccine is now being given to patients across the US.
The move by the FDA came the day after its advisory panel unanimously recommended 20-0 for the company’s drug to get the green light.
“With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of Covid-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic that is causing vast numbers of hospitalisations and deaths in the United States each day,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.
“Through the FDA’s open and transparent scientific review process, two Covid-19 vaccines have been authorised in an expedited timeframe while adhering to the rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorisation that the American people have come to expect from the FDA.”
The drug will now join the largest ever vaccination programme in US history, and go first to health care workers and nursing home residents.
US officials plan to ship 6 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in a first wave and, unlike Pfizer’s shot, which must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, it can be stored in a regular freezer.
The government has ordered 200 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine to go with 100 million from Pfizer.
Moderna’s vaccine is given in two shots that are taken 28 days apart, and has been proven to be 94 per cent effective.
Both vaccines use small pieces of genetic code called messenger RNA to get the body’s immune system to produce coronavirus antibodies, without actually using any virus.
They are the first vaccines of their kind ever authorised for use.
The Moderna vaccine, like the Pfizer one, has shown no serious reactions but has caused pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain and chills.