A Centers for Disease Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on Feb. 4 unanimously recommended Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for all adults.
All 13 members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted after hearing presentations from CDC officials on safety and efficacy data for the vaccine, which was approved by U.S. drug regulators on Jan. 31 a little over a year after receiving emergency clearance.
Dr. Beth Bell, one of the panel members, said her vote came after seeing the evidence that's accumulated as millions of doses of the Moderna shot have been administered in the United States since its emergency authorization in December 2020.
"We can see the power and the value of vaccination. We continue to see the biggest risk to individuals is not getting vaccinated," she said, adding that she hoped the endorsement would convince people hesitant about the vaccine to get vaccinated.
Moderna has a two-shot primary series.
Higher than expected rates of myocarditis were found among males as old as 50 years old, and females 18 to 29.
Several panel members expressed concern during the presentations, including Dr. Lynn Bahta, an immunization clinical consultant at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Patients with myocarditis are often unable to participate in some or all physical activities, such as sports, along with other limitations.
Dr. Matthew Daley, a senior investigator for Kaiser Permanente Colorado, said he was still surprised at how well the vaccines have worked, noting that several studies have suggested they prevented up to 10.3 million hospitalizations and up to 1.1 million deaths through November 2021 in the United States.
"I still have a sense of wonder at what's been accomplished here. That, and a deep sense of gratitude," he said.
Outside the panel, not all experts agreed with the regulatory approval.
Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center, told The Epoch Times in an email that the approval “is not clinically justifiable nor supported by clinical data," adding that a large, randomized trial with the Omicron virus variant should have been done to determine if the vaccine works well against the strain.
Omicron is behind about 99.9 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to CDC sequencing data. It displaced Delta in December 2021.
Still, others said the approval made sense.
"You have to look at it from risk-benefit perspective. It's proven to be highly effective with very tolerable risk and a very solid safety profile," Dr. Peter Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner who is now president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, told The Epoch Times.
Pitts said the waning of antibodies seen over time and against Omicron isn't ideal, but noted that the vaccines still appear to be holding up well against severe disease.