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A second COVID-19 vaccine could roll out in the U.S. soon. Here’s what we know

Alex Cochran

Tracking the latest COVID-19 vaccine developments from home and around the world.

The latest

A day after health care workers across the U.S. began receiving the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration has announced that the “highly effective” Moderna vaccine could be shipped as soon as this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The FDA will likely authorize use of the vaccine at the end of this week — a decision that would give millions of Americans access to a second vaccine as early as Monday, according to The New York Times.

New data released Tuesday confirms Moderna’s earlier reports that its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1%. If approved, about 6 million doses of the vaccine will be distributed to 3,285 locations in the U.S., first reaching health care workers and other high-priority groups, including adults over 65 years old, those with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers, the Deseret News previously reported.

The general public will then have access to the vaccine, likely around spring 2021. The vaccine comes at a critical time, when the pandemic has killed 300,000 people in the U.S. and more than 1.6 million worldwide, according to The Wall Street Journal.

That toll is expected to grow in the next few weeks due to holiday travel and family gatherings, according to The Associated Press. As the vaccine awaits emergency use authorization, here are some big takeaways.

What to know about the Moderna vaccine

  • Like the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t contain any live or dead novel coronavirus and cannot give you COVID-19, the Deseret News previously reported.
  • Also like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine requires two doses, given 28 days apart, according to the Deseret News. New data suggests that the vaccine starts to prevent asymptomatic infections after the first dose, which could significantly slow the spread of COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • According to The New York Times, Moderna has indicated that the vaccine can prevent severe disease — during the vaccine trial, 30 volunteers developed severe cases of COVID-19. All of them were in the placebo group, and there were no cases among the people who were vaccinated.
  • Side effects — like fever, headaches and fatigue — can be “unpleasant but not dangerous,” The New York Times reported. Side effects are common with any vaccine and can be a sign it is working, according to the Deseret News.
  • Severe reactions were rare but occurred more frequently after the second dose, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, the new data released Tuesday shows that the side effects typically last a day — so people may need to take a day off of work after getting the shot, according to The New York Times.
  • During the Moderna trial, three vaccinated participants and one placebo participant developed Bell’s palsy — a form of temporary facial paralysis. In the vaccine review released Tuesday, the FDA said the “available information is insufficient to determine a causal relationship with the vaccine,” The New York Times reported. The FDA plans to keep track of Bell’s palsy cases as the vaccines roll out.
  • Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be given to the public free of charge, according to The New York Times.

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