The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday approved for emergency use a second COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine, from U.S. drugmaker Moderna, was developed with the National Institutes of Health. An advisory panel recommended the vaccine for approval late Thursday. The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use earlier this month.
This is the first authorization for Moderna’s vaccine. The vaccine is similar to one from Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech that’s now being dispensed to millions of health care workers and nursing home residents.
The two vaccines work “better than we almost dared to hope,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told The Associated Press. “Science is working here; science has done something amazing.”
Now that the FDA has authorized use of Moderna’s vaccine, the U.S. drugmaker will begin transporting millions of doses for health workers and nursing home residents, and they could arrive Monday.
As the United States approves this second vaccine, the coronavirus crisis continues to take its toll. At least 313,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Friday evening, the most in the world by far, according to Johns Hopkins University. Brazil ranked second in deaths, with close to 185,000.
In California’s Los Angeles County the crisis is so dire that the county’s public health department posted on Twitter: “Every hour, on average, 2 people are dying of COVID-19 in LA County.”
Earlier Friday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence received their first COVID-19 vaccinations.
The 80-year-old Pelosi received the inoculation, with media looking on, from U.S. Congress and Supreme Court attending physician Brian Monahan. Monahan is seeking to inoculate senior U.S. officials as part of a pandemic continuity plan laid out by intelligence officials.
Pence received the vaccination in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus, along with his wife, Karen, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Pence said he was eager to take the shot to show Americans the vaccine was safe and effective.
Elsewhere in the world, UNICEF U.K., for the first time in its 70-year history, is giving food assistance to children in Britain whose families have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
A little more than $1 million will be distributed to 30 organizations.
And in France, President Emmanuel Macron has left Elysée Palace and is temporarily working at an official residence in Versailles, after testing positive for the coronavirus.
U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Macron on Friday and wished him “a speedy recovery and a quick return to his full duties,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement.
Dr. Hans Kluge, the regional director of the World Health Organization’s European office, has urged people to stay home during the holidays. He said in a statement that it is “not worth the risk” of contracting the virus.
There are more than 75 million global COVID-19 cases, according to John Hopkins University.
The United States has 17.4 million cases, followed by India with almost 10 million and Brazil with 7.1 million cases.