But there are some major differences. Most importantly, Moderna vaccine can be stored in regular refrigerators and does not require an ultra-cold transmission network, making it more accessible for smaller facilities and communities.
While Pfizer is a giant pharmaceutical company, Moderna – short for Modified RNA – is a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The company’s scientists had already collaborated with researchers from the National Institutes of Health on a vaccine for another coronavirus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). When Chinese researchers released the genetic sequence for the novel coronavirus in mid-January, they had a rapid onset.
The FDA’s clinical trials were lit in green for the Moderna vaccine on March 3, the first to come out of the gate. Its advanced clinical trial began on July 27 and was the first government-funded clinical trial of a phase III Covid-19 vaccine in the United States. The company applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use permit for the vaccine on November 30.
Does the vaccine work?
Moderna vaccine was effective in preventing cases of Covid-19 overall and in reducing severe Covid-19 during the trial.
In Moderna’s trial, 15,000 study participants were given a placebo, which is an injection of saline that has no effect. Over a period of several months, 185 of them developed Covid-19, with 30 developing severe forms of the disease. One of them died.
Another 15,000 participants were given the vaccine, and only 11 of them developed Covid-19. None of the 11 became severely ill.
The vaccine was effective across age groups, genders, racial and ethnic groups, and participants with medical comorbidities associated with a higher risk of contracting Covid-19, according to the briefing document. About 10% of the study participants were black and 20% were Hispanic or Latino.
How it works?
The Moderna vaccine in particular contains a synthetic mRNA that encodes a structure called a “high glycoprotein fixed prior to fusion” of the virus.
The vaccine also contains fatty substances called lipids, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate and sucrose.
How is the Moderna vaccine different from the Pfizer vaccine?
“They seem almost equivalent,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, during an appearance on CNN’s “The New Day” on Tuesday.
Building: Both vaccines depend on mRNA, or messenger RNA, to work, although structures and structures are slightly different.
Offit said Monday, “Although they are both messenger RNA vaccines, they are really different RNA molecules, and they have what are called lipid delivery systems, meaning the type of fatty droplets in which mRNA is present.” That’s why they have different storage and handling properties. . ”
Cold storageMost importantly, the Moderna vaccine does not need to be kept in extremely cold temperatures, such as the Pfizer vaccine.
In contrast, the Moderna vaccine could be kept at around minus 20 degrees Celsius, or about the temperature of a home refrigerator, according to Moncef Salawi, head of the US effort to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. Moderna vaccine can also be kept in the refrigerator for 30 days before it expires.
“So this is more manageable and much more available,” Al-Slaoui said on Tuesday.
These differences indicate that the Pfizer vaccine could be used more for large institutions with well-established infrastructure such as hospitals, while Moderna may be more useful for smaller facilities such as the local chain or pharmacist.
Dosage and timingThe moderna vaccine is given as two 100 mcg doses 28 days apart. The Pfizer vaccine is given as two 30 microgram doses, given 21 days apart.
OmarIf licensed, the Moderna vaccine will be used for people 18 years of age or older, while the Pfizer vaccine is allowed for people 16 years of age or older.
Is it safe?
The document briefing the FDA says that the vaccine has an “adequate” safety profile, “with no specific safety concerns identified” that would prevent it from obtaining an emergency permit.
The most common adverse reactions to the vaccine were injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, and chills, according to the document. Swollen lymph nodes have also been reported.
Overall, the “frequency of serious non-fatal adverse events was low and without meaningful disruption” between the vaccinated group and the placebo group.
When will I be able to get it?
Once the Food and Drug Administration grants permission for emergency use, Al-Slaoui said, shipments are expected to begin after 24 hours so that the vaccines will reach the facilities by Monday morning.
There will be more than 6 million doses of Moderna vaccines shipped to more than 3,200 sites, which is far more than the 636 sites where Pfizer vaccines have been shipped to.
CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr Sanjay Gupta, estimated that vaccines would be generally available by late spring or early summer.
CNN’s Jane Christensen, Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.