Image only for representation
US distribution of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine began on Saturday, with more than 3,700 sites due to start receiving and administering shots as soon as Monday, vastly widening the rollout started last week by Pfizer Inc.
Amid record coronavirus infections and deaths, Moderna has already moved vaccine supplies from its manufacturing plants to warehouses operated by distributor McKesson Corp.
Workers on Saturday were packing vaccines into containers and loading them on trucks, US Army General Gustave Perna said during a news conference. Trucks will set out on Sunday and shipments will start reaching healthcare providers as soon as Monday, he said.
Doses of vaccine must travel with security guards, including US Marshals, and will be stored in locked refrigerators. US plans call for at-risk groups such as elderly people in nursing homes and medical workers to receive injections first.
A man wears a medical mask on the subway as New York City confronts the coronavirus outbreak. AFP
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved an emergency use authorisation for Moderna's vaccine, the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval.
Moderna said a panel of outside advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Saturday to recommend its vaccine for use in people aged 18 and older. The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices panel voted 11-0 in favour of the vaccine.
Pfizer organised its own distribution system.
The jab developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE was authorised Dec. 11.
Pharmaceutical services provider Catalent Inc's facility in Bloomington, Indiana, is filling and packaging vials with Moderna vaccine and handing them to McKesson. The company is shipping them from its facilities including those in Louisville, Kentucky and Memphis, Tennessee, which are close to air hubs for United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp .
Pfizer organised its own distribution system. The US government's vaccine programme, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, is in charge of logistics for Moderna's distribution under Perna.Reuters
Amid a torrent of negative and worrisome news related to COVID-19 pandemic globally, Moderna Inc’s claim that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the United States, has produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers injects hope and some relief.
Last week the Commission reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech on the supply of their potential COVID-19 vaccine, with formal signature of the contract expected later this week.
The US was wholly unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic.
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