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Moderna to distribute 6 million COVID-19 vaccines as soon as Friday upon FDA emergency approval

U.S. officials said on Monday they are planning to ship just under 6 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine once it receives emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

CNBC reports that McKesson, a medical supply company, will receive doses of the Moderna vaccine for packaging and distributing to 3,285 sites, according to Gen. Gustave Perna, who is in charge of logistics for Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine program. Perna said that UPS and FedEx have been tasked with getting the vaccine doses to their final locations. 

CNBC reports that the vaccine could be approved as early as Friday, one week after Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was granted emergency use authorization. Similar to Pfizer, Moderna's vaccine is given in two doses spaced four weeks apart.

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“The difference in quantities was about what was available when we were doing planning for initial delivery,” said Perna. “As early as 15th [of] November, I snapped the chalk line on what was available to Pfizer so states could do the planning. ... We wanted them to have enough time as possible to do the planning and realize where they wanted to go first.”

Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said on Monday that 20 million Americans are expected to be immunized by the end of the year and 100 million doses are expected to be injected by the end of February 2021.

As CNBC notes, the U.S. government is currently planning on holding back on doses to ensure that people get the second dose they need. Slaoui stated that the government may stop holding back doses in January or February once they see "things are rolling perfectly.”

Perna said, “As our process matures, both in manufacturing and in distribution, as I said before, the safety stock will go down significantly. Our goal, the guidance I’ve been giving, is vaccine sitting on a shelf is not effective. We have two vaccines that are highly effective, and we want to get it to the American people.”