What we know about Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine and how it differs from Pfizer’s

(CNN) Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was the first Covid-19 vaccine authorized and shipped out to the first Americans last week.

But there are a few key differences. Most importantly, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in normal freezers and does not require a super-cold transportation network, making it more accessible for smaller facilities and local communities.

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Moderna for its vaccine, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the vaccine for people ages 18 and older.Here’s a look at what we know about the Moderna vaccine and how it compares to Pfizer’s.

What is Moderna?

Moderna headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Moderna headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.While Pfizer is a pharmaceutical behemoth, Moderna — short for modified RNA — is a biotech company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Established in 2010, Moderna has never brought a product to market, or gotten any of its nine or so vaccine candidates approved for use by the FDA. It had also never brought a product to phase three of a clinical trial previously.

The company’s scientists had already been collaborating with researchers from the National Institutes of Health on a vaccine for another coronavirus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). When Chinese researchers released the genomic sequence for the novel coronavirus in mid-January, they had a jump start.

The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, had development help from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The US Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority, known as BARDA, supported late-stage clinical trials and has helped scale up manufacturing.

The FDA green-lit clinical trials of Moderna’s vaccine on March 3, the first out of the gate. Its advanced stage clinical trial started July 27 and it was the first government-funded Phase 3 clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in the US. The company applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization for the vaccine on November 30.

Does the vaccine work?

The Moderna vaccine was effective in preventing Covid-19 cases in total and in limiting severe Covid-19 during the trial.

The vaccine’s efficacy against Covid-19 was 94.1%, occurring at least 14 days after the second dose, according to a briefing document released by an advisory committee to the FDA.

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