Everything We Know So Far About the COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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Another potential COVID-19 vaccine has been announced, only a week after news of Pfizer and BioNTech’s reportedly successful collaboration. This latest candidate sounds just as promising, if not more—its success rate of 94.5% is just a few notches higher.

(Also, country music icon Dolly Parton has silently been funding  COVID-19 research which ultimately aided in the development of Moderna, donating $1 million in support)

The vaccines are alike in other ways, too: Neither has named significant side effects or problems associated with the vaccine. For Moderna, symptoms reported in testing are similar to that of other vaccines: fatigue, muscle aches, and injection-site pain.

Contracting COVID-19 from either is not possible, because the vaccine isn’t made from the coronavirus. It’s a “piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spiked protein on the surface of the virus” that does the work.

In studies, both were delivered in two doses, spread weeks apart: Pfizer’s second dose 21 days after the initial dose and Moderna’s booster is administered after 28 days.

That means that promises from each to deliver millions of vaccines in the U.S. will result in the inoculation of half that many people.

While the federal government will reportedly cover the cost of the vaccines for people in the U.S., the country’s population—about 328 million—is far greater than the 70 million total vaccines expected by the end of 2020 from Pfizer and Moderna combined.

Additionally, there’s about 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S. who likely aren’t included in the Census population estimate.

Both companies aim to hit a billion or more doses next year, no detailed timeline for those milestones has been announced.

Still, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to announce if either vaccine has been approved for emergency use. AP News reports that, if approved, “limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year” will be available.

Adults aged 65 and older and health care workers, two high-risk groups, are top priority in the U.S., Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added. It’s been reported that it may be “spring or summer” of next year before people who aren’t high-risk can be vaccinated.