Dr DOUG QUARRY
Australia’s third COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna, is expected to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) within the next fortnight.
In May, Australia reached a deal to buy 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is another mRNA vaccine. Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated the first doses of the vaccine are expected to be rolled out from mid-September. He has said that we expect to see one million doses arrive by September and 9 million doses by December.
What is the Moderna vaccine?
- The Moderna vaccine is quite similar to the Pfizer vaccine.
- Both vaccines use what is known as mRNA technology which, before the pandemic, had been trialled in humans but hadn’t yet been approved for widespread use.
- Moderna is administered over two doses.
- But where there is at least a three-week gap between Pfizer doses, Moderna doses are separated by four weeks.
- While the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots are similar, they are not identical. Moderna’s doses contain 100 micrograms of vaccine, while Pfizer’s contains 30 micrograms.
Who is likely to receive it?
- The Moderna vaccine is expected to be rolled out nationwide, with the majority of doses to be used as booster shots for people who have received AstraZeneca or Pfizer.
- So even if you don’t receive Moderna for your primary vaccination, you might wind up getting it as a booster next year.
- Ten million of Australia’s doses from Moderna will be its existing vaccine, and 15 million will be the updated booster shots that target new variants.
- Has it been effective?
- Moderna is an American company, and the vaccine is being widely used in the United States after receiving emergency authorisation in December.
- More than 140 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered in the US so far.
- On Thursday, Moderna said the vaccine was about 93 per cent effective through six months after the second dose.
- This is hardly any change from the 94 per cent efficacy reported in its original clinical trial.
- The six-month data also suggested that Moderna’s vaccine still provided 98 per cent protection against severe disease and was 100 per cent effective at preventing death caused by COVID-19.
- However, the data does not include the vaccine’s performance against the more contagious Delta variant.
What side effects have been reported?
- Health authorities in the US warn of only minor side-effects for the Moderna vaccine, including pain in the arm where the shot is delivered, and things like tiredness, muscle pain, fever and chills.
Where will I be able to get it?
- Mr Hunt said last month that community pharmacies would play a big role in the Moderna rollout.
- It is also anticipated the vaccine would be available at GPs and state vaccine hubs that are already administering Pfizer and AstraZeneca.