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Updated 9 February, 2021

COVID-19 vaccination campaign has commenced in Dubai and other emirates across the UAE, following the approval of the Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines. As those who are eligible for the jab amass at their nearest vaccination centers, many are hoping that the inoculation would spell the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, on 18 December 2020, approved the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine for emergency use. This allows the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the US for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.  Also, the United Kingdom on 8 January 2021 has stated that the Moderna vaccine has been approved for use as the country’s third COVID-19 vaccine by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  

Let us take a closer look at the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine; its efficacy, cost, side effects and how it works.

How does the Moderna mRNA-1273 work?

The Moderna vaccine primarily works by injecting a fraction of the COVID-19 virus’ genetic code into the body. This will trigger the body’s immune response therefore creating antibodies capable of fighting the virus. 

The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine requires two doses to be administered, with the second dose recommended to be taken 28 days following the initial shot. The vaccine has been approved for use in those 18 years of age and over and pregnant and breastfeeding women should it be deemed that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. Consultations with a healthcare provider is a must and any decisions made should be based on individual circumstances. 

Individuals with a history of allergic reactions to any and all ingredients making up the Moderna vaccine should avoid receiving the jab. However, those with other allergies such as a food allergy may still be allowed the vaccine.

The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine can be stored at -20°C for up to six months.

 

How effective is the Moderna Vaccine?

Moderna has released a statement highlighting how the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate has met its primary efficacy endpoint in the first interim analysis of the Phase 3 COVE Study. Based on the final analysis of 151 cases and a median follow-up of more than 2 months, a point estimate of the vaccine has been identified at 94.5 percent efficacy.

Like other COVID-19 vaccines, there is still no evidence to suggest that the Moderna vaccine will not be effective against the new strain.

 

Are there any known side effects?

The interim analysis concluded that based on the phase 3 COVE study data, the mRNA-1273 did not produce significant safety concerns. 

However, there have been some observable adverse effects that were mild or moderate in severity, which include injection site pain (2.7 percent), and after the second dose included fatigue (9.7 percent), myalgia (8.9 percent), arthralgia (5.2 percent), headache (4.5 percent), pain (4.1 percent) and erythema/redness at the injection site (2.0 percent). These observable adverse effects are reported to be generally short-lived.

 

Moderna Vaccine in the UAE

The Moderna vaccine has not been included in UAE’s mass vaccination campaign yet. As of 9 February, only the Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccine shots have been approved in the Emirates.

 

How much is the price of the Moderna vaccine?

Moderna’s price for the vaccine is somewhat difficult to pin down. On the one hand, Moderna has reached agreements with governments to sell the vaccine for around USD 10 to 50 per dose, while on the other hand, the price for retail customers following the completion of government programs will be around USD 32 to 37 per dose for ‘some customers.’

For residents of the UAE, it is important to note that the current vaccination program has been free of charge so far.