Story at a glance

  • Leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate Moderna confirmed that its drug will not be ready for emergency approval until late November, and won’t be available for widespread public distribution until spring 2021.
  • Health experts have supported this timeline, contradicting President Trump.

Amid the race for a coronavirus vaccine, the chief executive of one of the leading vaccine contenders said that the company’s drug most likely won’t be ready for mass public distribution until spring of 2021, consistent with the timeline voiced by public health experts like Anthony Fauci and Brett Giroir

Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive officer of Moderna, told the Financial Times that the company wouldn’t apply for emergency authorization for a potential COVID-19 vaccine for vulnerable patients and workers until Nov. 25 at the earliest.

At a health conference Wednesday, Bancel pushed back the timeline for a vaccine to be available for the general population to January 2021, saying the company wouldn't seek approval for its vaccine candidate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until then. From there, proof that the vaccine is both safe and effective would lead to formal approval around late March or early April.


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"I think a late [first quarter], early [second quarter] approval is a reasonable timeline, based on what we know from our vaccine," Bancel reportedly said.

A Moderna spokesperson confirmed Bancel’s statement. 

The timeline follows earlier statements that the vaccine would be ready for emergency authorization approval closer to Nov. 1. 

Moderna is one of the handful of pharmaceutical companies included in Operation Warp Speed, a program funded by the Trump administration to expedite the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

President Trump has also estimated that a vaccine could be ready for phased deployment within weeks, something he reiterated during Tuesday night's presidential debate in Ohio.

While CBS reports that there are approximately 170 COVID-19 vaccine and treatment candidates in various stages of development, some of the companies with leading candidates funded by Operation Warp Speed include Moderna, the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech, and Novavax, all of whom have potential vaccines in clinical trials. 

AstraZeneca was forced to halt testing of its vaccine hopeful early last month as a serious illness was reported in a patient participating in the drug trials. The company resumed the trial later in September, though the FDA is reportedly still investigating the incident and safety implications.


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Published on Oct 01, 2020