By Emily Drooby
It’s a shot at hope: two coronavirus vaccines front-runners have emerged, Moderna and Pfizer.
In July, a local Georgia news anchor became the Moderna vaccine’s first trial patient. Now that trial is coming out to be about 95% effective, like the Pfizer trial.
Dr. Robert Tiballi, an infectious disease expert with the Catholic Medical Association, says that for Catholics, the Moderna vaccine presents a slight ethical issue when it comes to the dignity of human life.
“The fetal cell lines were not directly used in the Moderna, but they were indirectly used several steps away from the actual development of the vaccine,” he told Currents News.
Dr. Tiballi added that a lot of the information about these vaccines are protected, meaning it’s hidden, so that could change.
Both vaccines use messenger RNA, which teaches the body to fight the virus without having to use the virus.
“These vaccines will not give you coronavirus,” explained Dr. Tiballi, “Your body’s immune system sees the spike protein and goes, ‘Oh we are under attack, we have to build the antibodies against this.'”
He added that if approved, it would be a medical milestone; “We’ve never had a messenger RNA vaccine ever.”
Both shots have to be frozen, but Moderna can last in a fridge for a month — Pfizer for only 5 days. Pfizer also has to be kept in extreme cold at minus-70 degrees Celsius, which creates an extra distribution challenge.
“You’re going to have to go to specially designated places that have been trained how to keep this vaccine cold enough and therefore keep it effective,” said Dr. Tiballi.
The next step is for both companies to apply to have the FDA authorize their vaccines. Pfizer plans to do that on Nov. 20 and Moderna in the next few weeks.
If approved, the FDA will review the data for a few weeks. After that, an FDA advisory committee will review the data in public meetings scheduled for mid-December.
The federal government has pre-purchased hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, but getting everyone vaccinated could still be a long way off.