The Food and Drug Administration authorized a second coronavirus vaccine on Friday. The emergency use authorization (EUA) for Moderna's (MRNA -0.24%) mRNA-1273 comes just a day after the agency's advisory committee unanimously recommend authorizing the vaccine and a week after Pfizer (PFE -0.49%) and BioNTech (BNTX -1.68%) received an EUA for their coronavirus vaccine, BNT162b2.
Moderna plans to deliver approximately 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the month.
The EUAs allow the drugmakers to sell their vaccines in the U.S. as long as the pandemic emergency continues. Both Pfizer and Moderna have said they plan to apply for full approval next year once they have the additional safety data the FDA is requiring for a full approval.
Moderna's vaccine has a few advantages over Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, including easier storage requirements. In their respective clinical trials, mRNA-1273 also appeared to provide better protection from severe COVID-19. Of the 196 COVID-19 cases in the clinical trial, none of the participants who got mRNA-1273 developed severe COVID-19, while 30 of the cases in the placebo group were classified as severe.
But Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162b2 does have some advantages in other areas. The vaccine is authorized for people 16 years and older, while the lower age for Moderna's mRNA-1273 is 18 years old. The side effect profile, especially after the second dose, also appears to be milder for BNT162b2 compared to mRNA-1273.
Of course, in the short-term, there won't much of a competition between the two vaccines since neither group will be able to manufacture enough vaccine to meet the demand for the foreseeable future.