Moderna and partners have begun distributing its COVID-19 vaccine with trucks expected to start rolling out to more than 3,700 U.S. locations on Sunday (December 20) U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on a Saturday (December 19) press call.
The second COVID-19 vaccine approved for use by U.S. regulators will reach healthcare providers by as early as Monday, Perna said, adding that delivery of the first 20 million doses of vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer could be pushed back until the first week of January.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved an emergency use authorization for the Moderna Inc vaccine, the second after Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech.
Transportation companies UPS and FedEx are giving priority to vaccines on planes and trucks that are moving holiday gifts and other cargo. Their drivers will handle the bulk of the last-mile Moderna vaccine deliveries. They are going directly to vaccination sites, unlike Pfizer’s which was sent to large hubs and redistributed. Moderna’s vaccine is available in quantities as small as 100 doses and can be stored for 30 days in standard-temperature refrigerators, while the inoculations from Pfizer come in boxes of 975 doses, must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius (-94 F), and can be held for only 5 days at standard refrigerator temperatures.
It will take several months before vaccines are widely available to the public on demand, and opinion polls have found many Americans hesitant about getting inoculated.
Data shows surging infections and hospitalizations are driving healthcare systems to the breaking point across much of the country, with many intensive care units at or near capacity.
COVID-19 is claiming more than 3,000 lives per day in the U.S. with a total of more than 313,000 lives lost.
(Production: Kia Johnson