The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday.
The decision came after an independent expert panel voted overwhelmingly to recommend the authorization on Thursday. Moderna’s vaccine candidate was found to be 94.1% effective in preventing COVID-19 in clinical trials, and it doesn’t trigger severe side effects in most people.
That’s far more effective than expected: The FDA had said it would likely approve a vaccine that showed at least 50% efficacy, and Dr. Anthony Fauci had said he hoped for 70%. The vaccine’s development process was also unprecedentedly fast — only the Pfizer-BioNTech team beat Moderna to FDA authorization (that vaccine, similarly, was 95% effective in trials).
But perhaps more remarkable is that Moderna designed its vaccine in just two days in January, before some people had even heard of the coronavirus.