Approval of 2nd COVID-19 vaccine another milestone in US' fight against pandemic: Biden

Lalit K Jha
·4-min read

Washington, Dec 19 (PTI) The approval of the second COVID-19 vaccine is another milestone in the US' fight against the deadly pandemic, President-elect Joe Biden has said, announcing that he would receive the jab publicly on Monday to boost Americans' confidence in the scientific process.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 on Friday became the second drug in the US to get emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a week after the one developed by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech received a similar approval.

The US is the worst-hit country from the pandemic that has claimed over 310,000 lives across the country.

The emergency use authorisation by the FDA of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is another milestone in “our battle to overcome the crisis our country is facing today,” Biden said in a statement.

“The authorisation of two vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and now Moderna, assures us that brighter days lie ahead. We are grateful to the scientists, medical experts, and trial participants who helped to deliver these vaccines and evaluated their safety and efficacy free from political influence,” Biden said.

The President-elect said he looks forward to receiving the vaccine publicly on Monday and continuing to build confidence in the scientific process.

Observing that the fight against COVID-19 is not yet over, Biden said that immense challenges lie ahead, including scaling up manufacturing, distribution, and the monumental task of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans.

“We need to make sure we have the resources to do all of this and to do it quickly. And, we need a coronavirus and economic relief package passed immediately,” he said.

This week, health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities around the country began receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“Today, the American people saw bipartisan leaders including Vice President (Mike) Pence, Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, and Senator (Mitch) McConnell publicly receive the vaccine as well. This is about more than politics. This is about saving lives,” he said.

“Vaccines don't save lives, vaccinations do. I believe we can administer 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of my administration. My administration will focus on the science and managing a robust and aggressive plan to contain the virus on day one. It will take all of us, continuing to do our part, to slow the spread of the virus including mask wearing and social distancing,” he said.

According to Jen Psaki, the incoming White House Press Secretary, the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would take the vaccine a week later at the advice of doctors.

Earlier in the day, the FDA announced that it had issued an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been developed by Moderna, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for its COVID-19 vaccine, along with scientists at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Operation Warp Speed, a public–private partnership initiated by the US government to expedite vaccine development, has allocated more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine for jurisdictions to receive in the coming week.

“On January 7, before China had reported even one death from the novel coronavirus or confirmed human-to-human transmission, NIH (National Institutes of Health) scientists and innovators at Moderna agreed to begin work on the vaccine that received FDA authorisation today,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Czar said.

In March, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) scientists joined the partnership and worked with Moderna and NIH to reach commercialisation, building on support BARDA has provided since 2016 for the remarkable mRNA technology.

To have two vaccines against a novel virus authorised and distributed within a year is extraordinary, and to have one of these vaccines developed by scientists at the NIH should be a great source of pride for every member of the HHS family and every American, he said.

“The public-private partnership of Operation Warp Speed has helped Moderna, an American startup, become one of the first two companies to receive FDA authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine. Authorisation of Moderna’s vaccine means we can accelerate the vaccination of frontline healthcare workers and Americans in long-term-care facilities, and, ultimately, bring a faster end to this pandemic,” Azar said.

“The swift authorisation of a second vaccine by the FDA is great news for the American people. The DoD, with the work of General Perna and Operation Warp Speed, stands ready to work with our public and private-sector partners to ensure doses reach Americans as soon as possible. Together, we will bring this pandemic to an end,” said Acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller. PTI LKJ RS AKJ RS