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A UPS driver delivers 2,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Galveston, Texas. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

America's rural and underserved areas are one step closer to an easily accessible vaccine, thanks to the FDA approaching emergency authorization for the Moderna vaccine.

Why it matters: "Moderna is the one that I would take out to rural areas and community health centers and private doctors' offices," Harvard public health professor Barry Bloom told the N.Y. Times.

  • Moderna's vaccine doesn't need to be kept as cold as the Pfizer vaccine, making it far easier to distribute in smaller quantities.

By the numbers: The FDA review confirmed Moderna's 94% efficacy rate in preventing COVID infections for people with two doses.

  • Moderna said it's prepared to immediately distribute 6 million doses, double what Pfizer began to roll out on Monday.

Between the lines: The FDA review showed Moderna's vaccine worked "equally well in white, Black and Hispanic volunteers, men and women, healthy participants and those at risk of severe Covid-19 with conditions like obesity and diabetes," the Times notes.

  • "For people 65 and older, the trial provided an estimated efficacy of 86.4 percent, lower than the overall estimate of 94.1 percent. But the apparent difference was not statistically significant. And 86.4 percent is still very high."

The bottom line: Moderna's vaccine is a triumph for the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed, which provided several billion in funding to help ramp up production."

  • Moderna has agreements with the U.S. to sell 200 million doses.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.