The U.S. plans to ship 6 million cans of Moderna as soon as the FDA clears approval

This creative image, captured in a studio in Paris on November 16, 2020, showing a syringe and vaccine bottle with the logo of a US biotech company Moderna reproduced, illustrates the announcement of an experimental vaccine against Covid-19 from Moderna, which is nearly complete would be 95% effective, a second important step forward in ending the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joel Saget | AFP | Getty Images

US officials said Monday they plan to ship close to 6 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine once the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval, which could come as early as Friday.

Medical supply company McKesson will receive the cans from Moderna for packaging and distribution to 3,285 locations across the country, General Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics for President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed ​​vaccination program, told reporters. FedEx and UPS will be responsible for shipping the cans to their final locations, he added. Moderna’s vaccine takes two doses four weeks apart.

The first shipments of Moderna’s vaccine are more than double the 2.9 million doses the US has prepared for shipping Pfizer’s vaccine.

“The difference in volume was what was available when we were planning the first delivery,” he said during a press conference. “Already on the 15th. [of] In November, I snapped the chalk line on what Pfizer had available to allow states to do the planning … We wanted them to have as much time as possible to do the planning and see where they were going first . “

Briefing Monday comes when Americans got some of the first footage of Pfizer’s vaccine. New York’s Northwell Health administered the state’s first vaccine doses just before 9:30 a.m. ET. Sandra Lindsay, a The critical care nurse at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center received the first shot, which earned the audience applause.

Many states are already working with CVS Health, Walgreens and other local pharmacies to expand vaccine availability to rural areas and other places, Perna said, adding that states are monitoring where the doses go.

Initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be limited as production progresses with officials predicting it will take months to vaccinate everyone in the US who wants to be vaccinated. The vaccine is expected to be distributed in phases where the most critical U.S. workers and vulnerable people receive it first. The CDC has given states an outline recommending that priority be given to health workers and nursing homes first. However, states may distribute the vaccine at their own discretion.

Moderna’s vaccine could be approved for emergency use as early as Friday. The FDA’s Advisory Panel on Vaccines and Related Biological Products is due to review Moderna’s vaccine Thursday. The advisory group recommended Pfizer’s emergency vaccine last week, and the FDA approved it for emergency use a day later.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who heads Operation Warp Speed, said Monday that US officials expect 20 million Americans to receive their first shot of Modernas or Pfizer’s vaccine this month. He added that by the end of February, 100 million “gun vaccine shots” will be administered between the first dose and the booster shots. By the end of March, around 100 million Americans could be fully vaccinated, about a third of the US population, he said.

Like Pfizer, the US will set aside additional doses of Moderna’s vaccine so that patients can get their second doses and put some in reserve as a precaution, Perna said. He did not disclose how much of Moderna’s vaccine would be put on reserve, but the US put 500,000 doses of Pfizer aside.

Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said the US must withhold doses to ensure people can get their second dose in due course.

Slaoui told reporters last week that the government could potentially be ready to get more Covid vaccines out to the public without holding second doses “by mid-January or early February, when we’ve had five or six weeks of rolling highs in cadence manufacturing, and us see that things are going perfectly. “

“This is about making sure we are ready to defuse situations,” said Perna on Wednesday. “When our process is mature in both manufacturing and distribution, as I said earlier, the safety stock will go down significantly. Our goal, the guidance I’ve given, is that vaccines on a shelf don’t are effective. We have two vaccines that are highly effective and that we want to bring to the people of America. “

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