Moderna Covid-19 vaccine: On Wednesday, European Union regulator authorised the use of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for the bloc. It is the second vaccine approved by the 27-member Union. The decision came amidst the rising criticism regarding slow pace of vaccination, which was required to shield 450 million population of the region. The announcement was made after European Medicines Agency gave a go ahead to the Moderna vaccine with an aim to increase number of vaccination doses available for the bloc.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “We are providing more COVID-19 vaccines for Europeans. With the Moderna vaccine, the second one now authorized in the EU, we will have a further 160 million doses. And more vaccines will come.”
“This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency,” said EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke. “It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO.”
Last month, EU provided similar authorisation to US vaccine developer Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. In case of both the vaccines, people are required to take two shots at the gap of about two-three weeks. As per the existing deal with Pfizer-BioNTech, EU would be purchasing 300 million doses. But with the current approvals granted to Moderna, EU would avail 80 million more doses, with an option to further extend the order to 80 million extra doses. Besides, Moderna gained an upper hand over rest of the vaccines as it is easier to handle, transport and did require ultra-frozen temperatures for the storage.
Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been labelled safe to use as they both employ mRNA vaccine technology, which imply that the vaccine doesn’t contain any coronavirus. Instead, the medicine uses a certain type of genetic code which signals the immune system when it contacts a spike protein on the surface of the virus, about to attack.
Welcoming the move, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said that the vaccine authorization “will ensure that 460 million doses will be rolled out with increasing speed in the EU, and more will come. Member States have to ensure that the pace of vaccinations follows suit.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also commended the decision and wrote on Twitter that approval of the Moderna vaccine “is another important step in the fight against the pandemic. This means we have more vaccine available in the EU and can fight the pandemic faster.”
Moderna said that it was working towards producing about 500 to 600 million doses in 2021 to meet the global demand. On Monday, the pharmaceutical company said it is “continuing to invest and add staff to build up to potentially 1 billion doses for 2021.”