The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that it has now approved the COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine of Moderna for emergency use.
This is the fifth jab approved by the global organization, which now awaits the authorization of each country’s individual regulators; approval, such as the CDC in the US and the EMA in the EU.
In a statement, the WHO said that ”the objective is to make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics available as rapidly as possible to address the emergency.”
Will Moderna be authorized in Europe?
According to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), currently, four different COVID-19 vaccines are authorized to be used by the EU member-states.
The first one is the Comirnaty, which is a vaccine for preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in people aged 16 years and older.
Comirnaty contains a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) with instructions for producing a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Comirnaty does not contain the virus itself and cannot cause COVID-19.
The second one is that of Moderna, which contains also a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) with instructions for producing a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The third one is that of Astra Zeneca, which is made up of another virus (of the adenovirus family) that has been modified to contain the gene for making a protein from SARS-CoV-2.
Lastly, the fourth vaccine authorized to be used in the European Union is Janssen, which is also made up of another virus (of the adenovirus family) that has been modified to contain the gene for making a protein found on SARS-CoV-2.
According to the EMA, COVID-19 vaccines are medicines that prevent disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by triggering an immune response.
Safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 are needed because they protect individuals from becoming ill. This is particularly important for healthcare professionals and vulnerable populations such as older people and people with long-term diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis, with devastating health, social and economic impacts. COVID-19 can cause severe disease and death. It has unknown long-term consequences in people of all ages, including in otherwise healthy people.
Due to the urgency posed by the pandemic, efforts are ongoing to develop and study other COVID-19 vaccines in order to approve and make them available as soon as possible.
The EMA also states that ”COVID-19 vaccines are developed following the same legal requirements for pharmaceutical quality, safety and efficacy as other medicines.”
Like all medicines, COVID-19 vaccines’ effects are first tested in laboratory, including in animals, then vaccines are tested in human volunteers.
Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus that had not been seen before, the development of a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 could only be started once the virus emerged and its genetic make-up had been analyzed.
However, vaccine development builds on experience and technologies used for other vaccines.