But there are some main differences. Most importantly, the Moderna vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require a super-cold transport network, making it more accessible to smaller facilities and local communities.
While Pfizer is a pharmaceutical behemoth, Moderna – short for modified RNA – is a biotechnology company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Scientists at the company have already collaborated with researchers at the National Institutes of Health on vaccination against another coronavirus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). When Chinese researchers released the genome sequence of the new coronavirus in mid-January, they started it.
FDA green-lit clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine on March 3, outside the first gate. The advanced-stage clinical trial began on July 27, and was the first state-funded phase 3 clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States. On November 30, the company applied to the FDA for permission to use the vaccine in an emergency.
Does the vaccine work?
The Moderna vaccine was effective in preventing Covid-19 cases and limiting severe Covid-19 in the study.
In the Moderna study, 15,000 study participants received a placebo, which is a saline solution that has no effect. Over several months, 185 of them developed Covid-19, and 30 developed severe forms of the disease. One of them died.
An additional 15,000 participants received the vaccine, and only 11 developed Covid-19. None of the 11 became seriously ill.
According to the information document, the vaccine was effective in age groups, gender, racial and ethnic groups, and in participants with medical concomitant diseases at high risk of severe Covid-19. Approximately 10% of study participants were black and 20% were of Spanish or Latin descent.
How It Works?
In particular, the Moderna vaccine contains a synthetic mRNA that encodes a structure of the virus called a “pre-fusion stabilized spike glycoprotein.”
The vaccine also contains fats called lipids, tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate and sucrose.
How is Moderna’s vaccination different from Pfizer’s?
“They seem to be roughly equivalent,” Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccination Advisory Committee, said during CNN’s release on Tuesday’s “New Day”.
Structure: Both vaccines rely on mRNA or messenger RNA, although they have a slightly different structure and structure.
“Even though they are both messenger RNA vaccines, they are actually different messenger RNA molecules, they have different so-called lipid delivery systems, which means the kind of fat droplet in which messenger RNA is found,” Offit said Monday. “That’s why they have different storage and handling characteristics.”
Cold storage: Most importantly, Moderna vaccine should not be kept at temperatures as cold as Pfizer.
In contrast, Moderna can be vaccinated at about minus 20 degrees Celsius, or at the temperature of a home freezer, says Moncef Slaoui, head of U.S. efforts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. Vaccination with Moderna can be kept in the refrigerator for 30 days before it expires.
“So it’s more manageable and much more generally available,” Slaoui said Tuesday.
These differences suggest that Pfizer’s vaccine may be more suitable for use in larger institutions with built-in infrastructure, such as hospitals, while Moderna’s vaccine may be more useful in smaller facilities, such as a local chain or pharmacist.
Dosage and timing: Moderna is given as two doses of 100 micrograms, 28 days apart. Pfizer is given in two doses of 30 micrograms, 21 days apart.
Disease: If approved, Moderna will be used in people aged 18 years and older, while Pfizer will be used in people aged 16 years and older.
The vaccine has a “favorable” safety profile, according to an FDA information document that “no specific safety concerns” have been identified that would prevent an emergency license from being obtained.
The most common side effects of 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 incidence of serious non-fatal adverse events was low and there was no significant imbalance” between the vaccine group and the placebo group.
When can I get it?
Vaccination still needs to be enabled. The FDA’s advisory committee will meet on Thursday to discuss allowing the emergency use, and Slaoui said he expects the committee to approve it by Friday.
If that happens, he said deliveries are expected to begin 24 hours later so vaccinations will arrive at the facilities by Monday morning.
More than 6 million doses of Moderna vaccine are delivered to more than 3,200 locations, well over the 636 locations where Pfizer vaccines were delivered.
CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta estimates that vaccinations will usually be available in late spring or early summer.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.