US Considers Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccine Supply By Halving Moderna Doses For Some People

Operation Warp Speed Chief Adviser Moncef Slaoui said Sunday that Moderna Inc’s MRNA coronavirus vaccine could be administered at half the regular volume to some people in order to bolster availability.

What Happened: The chief of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine project told CBS News’ “Face The Nation” program that giving two doses of Moderna vaccine, at half the regular volume each, to people aged between 18 and 55 could achieve the objective of “immunizing double the number of people”  with the existing number of doses.

“We know [Moderna’s vaccine] induces [an] identical immune response to the hundred microgram dose and therefore we are in discussion with Moderna and with the FDA,” said Slaoui. "Of course, ultimately it will be an FDA decision to accelerate."

Why It Matters: U.S. health officials aimed to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020 but only around 4.2 million have received the shots as of Jan. 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported CNBC.

Slaoui revealed that injecting half the volume was a “more responsible approach that would be based on facts and data.”

The vaccine chief made the comments in response to a question about the approach taken by the United Kingdom of maximizing the number of people inoculated by giving a single shot of the vaccine.

Last week, the U.K. approved AstraZeneca plc’s AZN COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

The vaccine made by the British drugmaker can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures but those made by Pfizer Inc PFE and Moderna need to be kept at ultra-low temperatures.

Price Action: Moderna shares closed nearly 6% lower at $104.47 on Thursday and fell 0.44% in the after-hours session.

Posted In: BiotechNewsEventsGeneralCBS NewsCovid-19Moncef SlaouiVaccines