New York City received 25,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, from a total of 149,400 vaccines being stored at a Massachusetts-based biotech company, the rest of which are expected to arrive in the city this week according to Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi on Tuesday.
Moderna began shipping doses across the country on Sunday after the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday–adding thousands of inoculations to the state’s stockpile of recently received Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.
The city received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from biotech companies Pfizer and BioNTech last week on Dec.15. Since then, roughly 18,100 first doses of the two-shot vaccine have been administered to healthcare workers and nursing home residents.
Both vaccines require two shots and have shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. For the Pfizer vaccine, New Yorkers can get their second shot 21 days after receiving the first while those given the Moderna vaccine will have to wait 28 days for their second dose. In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95% after two doses three weeks apart, according to both companies, while Moderna showed an efficacy rate of 94.1% according to the FDA.
Under the state’s phase 1 vaccine distribution plan, healthcare workers with a high risk of contracting the virus as well as nursing home residents and workers are the first being inoculated against the virus. As part of phase 2, first responders such as firefighters and police officers will receive the vaccine as well as New Yorkers with underlying health conditions. Healthy adults and children are scheduled to receive the vaccine last as part of phase 3.
More doses of the vaccine are arriving in the city as a new COVID-19 variant spreads across the United Kingdom and South Africa and as COVID-19 cases in the city continue to remain, as Mayor de Blasio described, “absurdly” high. On Monday, de Blasio along with his top health care advisors followed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lead in supporting a travel ban for flights coming from the UK in the wake of the new strain.
After speaking with the governor yesterday, three airlines, British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, have all pledged to require COVID-19 tests for passengers aboard flights from the U.K. to JFK.
“The only way that we can really return back to some version of normal is to reduce the number of people infected,” said the city’s top medical advisor Dr. Jay Varma. “The virus will mutate when inside a human… so it circles back to the same thing, really. Be strict about all the precautions that we normally follow.”
On Tuesday, City Hall reported a 5.88% positivity rate for the five-boroughs based on a seven-day rolling average and 2,889 confirmed and probable new cases of the virus. In addition, out of 193 people admitted to a New York City hospital with suspected COVID-19 symptoms 66% tested positive for the virus.
“It speaks for itself that we have a lot of work to do,” said de Blasio.