WASHINGTON: Before the end of this year, expectations for a first round of vaccines were raised with the US company Moderna saying on Monday that it was applying for emergency permission in the United States and Europe for its Covid-19 vaccine.
After top US scientists warned Americans to brace for a “surge superimposed on the surge,” a high effectiveness measured at 94.1 percent was reported by Moderna, publishing full findings.
American pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, who applied for similar approvals last week and expected that their vaccine could be greenlit in the US shortly after Dec 10, were scheduled to participate.
If the US Food and Drug Administration decides that Moderna’s medication is safe and reliable, by mid-December, the first of the two doses of the drug will be pumped into the arms of millions of Americans.
“We believe our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that could alter the course of this pandemic,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna.
Health Secretary Alex Azar told CBS News: “Before Christmas, we could see both of these vaccines going out and getting into the arms of people.”
The jabs were mostly well accepted, with the most frequent side effects being injection site pain, nausea, muscle pain, knee pain and headache, and were co-developed with the US National Institutes of Health.
By the end of the year, Moderna plans to have about 20 million doses of the vaccine, called mRNA-1273, available in the US and next year between 500 million and one billion doses worldwide.
The news came after leading US scientist Anthony Fauci expressed his concerns after the Thanksgiving break, when millions of travellers headed home.
With more than 267,000 Covid-19 deaths, the United States is the worst-affected country, and the administration of President Donald Trump has provided contradictory warnings about mask-wearing, travel and the danger posed by the virus.
Unfortunately, what we anticipate when we head into December for the next few weeks is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we’re already in, Fauci told NBC News on Sunday.
After the epidemic in China last December, at least 1,460,018 deaths have been recorded worldwide, according to a compilation from official sources.
On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) insisted that it was doing everything possible to detect the animal source of the virus, despite the fact that a full team of experts had not yet been dispatched to China to study the matter.
The agency bowed to Chinese pressure and dragged its heels over the probe, but WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back and urged critics to avoid “politicising” the issue. Observers expressed concern.