WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious-disease expert, and other top health officials received the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday.
Fauci, along with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and six frontline workers received a Moderna Inc. vaccine.
The NIH said in a press release that the event marks "a momentous scientific achievement," and that the scientific achievement of the vaccine comes "less than a year following the identification of the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19."
The National Institutes of Health helped develop the Moderna vaccine as part of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed. The vaccine uses the same groundbreaking technology as Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot. Most traditional vaccines use a dead or weakened virus, but both of the new vaccines use snippets of COVID-19’s genetic code to train the immune system to detect and fight the virus. Both require two doses, several weeks apart.
The Pfizer and Moderna shots shipped so far and in the next few weeks are nearly all going to health care workers and residents of long-term care homes, based on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Vice President Mike Pence, President-Elect Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other political leaders have already received a COVID-19 vaccine.
There won’t be enough shots for the general population until spring, so doses will be rationed at least for the next several months.