COVID-19 Vaccine Update

The FEHBlog just watched the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) Vaccines and Biological Products Advisory Committee unanimously recommend by a 20-0 vote (one abstention) that the FDA grant emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Last week the same Committee appro/ved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by a 17-4-1 vote. Both vaccines rely on mRNA technology. In the FEHBlog’s view, the difference between the votes is that Moderna limited its EUA application to people aged 18 or older while Pfizer’s extension of the EUA to sixteen and seventeen year old people was controversial. If recent history is any guide, the FDA can be expected to grant the EUA tomorrow and over the weekend the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will trigger health plan coverage of the vaccine effective fifteen days later.

Politico reports that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be presented to this FDA committee in late January 2021. “The vaccine is the only one among the frontrunners that is given as a single dose. “Because it’s a one dose vaccine, they can really scale up very quickly,” said Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed.