The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been created in partnership with a research lab within the federal government.
It's the first Messenger RNA vaccine to enter clinical trials for the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
Speaking with Dr. Sam Sun, director at the inDemic Foundation and resident physician at Texas Medical Center, he touts the promising data behind the vaccine, now in Phase 3 of trials and proven to be more than 94% effective in preventing coronavirus.
In regards to how the vaccine works within the human body, Dr. Sun explains: "Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, they send kind of a blueprint into cells. That blueprint is not part of the virus; that blueprint encodes part of the virus. So once that blueprint gets into cells, then the cells can look at that blueprint, and they make copies of just the protein that the virus uses to infect human cells. By encoding that protein, your body starts to make it. We mount an immune response against that."
Dr Sun also notes that Moderna is reporting very good safety data, "meaning that the vaccine is very well tolerated. You're not going to wind up in the hospital just because you got two shots of this vaccine. They also reported that the vaccine prevents severe COVID-19."
It's worth noting that the Moderna vaccine is easier to store and transport than Pfizer's. Dr. Sun notes that this will be important for smaller, rural communities.
This week Moderna is working to get FDA approval for their vaccine. If it receives approval, Dr. Sun says, both Moderna and Pfizer will produce "between 20 and 50 million doses of their vaccine candidates by the end of this year."
This means they'll anticipate a roll-out to health care workers in December 2020.
Following the roll-out to healthcare workers will be a roll-out to those at high-risk and eventually a roll-out to the general public.
We can potentially see general public access to the Moderna vaccine in early spring.
I asked Dr. Sun his thoughts on the person who says this vaccine is rushed, and they will not get vaccinated. "The thing I would say about that is that the vaccine is extremely safe. It's over 1,000 times safer than getting COVID-19 naturally."
"You can think of all these conspiracy theories about whether the first participants are going to be guinea pigs or whatnot. But the trials have been done. They involve tens of thousands of people," concludes Dr. Sun. "To me, the data is already there, and I’ll be one of the first people lined up to get the shots."