KU doctors encouraged as second COVID-19 vaccine seeks FDA approval


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Moderna is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve its COVID-19 vaccine, after the company claims it’s more than 94% effective in a full analysis.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital are encouraged that this latest development will help Americans return their lives to normal sooner.

“We are excited about that,” said Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer at KU Hospital.

This would be the second vaccine to possibly be distributed across the country before the end of the year, with wide availability for the public by the spring or summer. Moderna says it will have 20 million doses available by the end of the year, enough for about 10 million people.

In a 30,000 person trial, Moderna says about 200 participants developed symptoms of COVID-19. Nearly all had received the placebo.

Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, the Moderna shots may be easier to distribute because they don’t require special freezers, like some already in place at the University of Kansas Health System, which provide ultra cold storage at temperatures of 70 degrees below zero.

“It appeared to be effective across all age groups and all types of people, whatever racial and ethnic background,” Stites said of Moderna’s vaccine. “I was happy with that. We do want to see more data, especially: Are people infectious, if they get the vaccination, can they still transmit it?”

Some who received the vaccine developed headaches and other mild reactions. Researchers don’t yet know how long protection provided by this vaccine will last.

An outside panel will meet on December 17 to review the company’s findings and vote on whether to recommend this vaccine’s use.

A similar meeting is scheduled with Pfizer and its vaccine on December 10.

While the government says it’s going to review the data quickly, regulators say they also will make sure the vaccines meet high standards required for any immunization.

Health care workers, others at nursing homes and first responders may be vaccinated first. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel is meeting Tuesday to vote on recommendations for distribution.

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