Pfizer's version is no longer the only weapon in the COVID vaccination battle. As expected, the FDA gave emergency authorization on Friday to the vaccine from Moderna. The first shots were expected to be given on Monday, a big part of the broader push to have a vaccine available to all Americans who want it by spring or summer. The Wall Street Journal notes that Moderna's version comes with a big advantage over Pfizer's: Because it doesn't need to be stored at uber-cold temperatures, it can be more easily shipped and stored at hospitals and clinics around the US. Unlike Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's can go in regular freezers.
“The addition of the Moderna vaccine to the response will be huge,” Claire Hannan of the Association of Immunization Managers tells the Journal. For one thing, easier shipment means that the vaccine can be sent to rural areas and smaller providers more easily than Pfizer's. Both vaccines were shown to be highly effective, around 95%, in clinical trials. Both also make use of what's known as mRNA, or messenger RNA, to work, though key differences in the process explain the storage and handling contrasts. CNN has more details on that. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)