US approves Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

19 December 2020, 06:59

The US has become the first country to approve the Moderna vaccine
The US has become the first country to approve the Moderna vaccine. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The US has approved Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first in the world to authorise a second vaccination against the deadly virus.

The move marks the world's first clearance for Moderna's shots, and the vaccine is very similar to one from Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech jab which is already being rolled out.

The two work "better than we almost dared to hope," National Institutes of Health director Dr Francis Collins said, adding: "Science is working here, science has done something amazing."

Early results of large, still unfinished studies show both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna jabs appear safe and strongly protective although Moderna's is easier to handle since it does not need to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures.

Read more: US Vice President Mike Pence receives Covid vaccine live on TV

A second vaccine represents a ray of hope amid despair as the virus continues to spread unabated even before holiday gatherings that are certain to further fuel the outbreak.

The pandemic has claimed more than 312,000 US lives and killed 1.7 million people worldwide.

New cases in the US are reaching around 216,000 per day on average, and deaths per day have hit all-time highs, surpassing 3,600 on Wednesday.

It comes the day after Vice President Mike Pence received a Pfizer vaccination on live TV.

The 61-year-old was administered his first jab alongside his wife Karen and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday morning in an office suite near the White House in Washington DC.

Three medical technicians from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, where President Donald Trump was admitted to after contracting Covid-19, issued the Pfizer/BioNTech shots to the trio.

Mr Pence said the speed at which the vaccine had been developed, manufactured and authorised was "a medical miracle".

Upon receiving his jab, the vice president, who like his wife did not flinch, said: "I didn't feel a thing, well done."

He added: "Hope is on the way.

"The American people can be confident - we have one and, perhaps within hours, two safe vaccines.