• Moderna's candidate vaccine may not be ready for widespread distribution until next spring
  • The company CEO said they could get an approval by the early second quarter of 2021
  • Trump has repeatedly claimed a vaccine will be available to the general population in weeks

Biotech company and coronavirus vaccine frontrunner Moderna announced Tuesday that its vaccine candidate would not be ready for widespread distribution until next spring.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the company is unlikely to seek emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for frontline workers and at-risk individuals until Nov. 25, at the earliest.

Bancel also spoke at a health conference on Wednesday, saying the drugmaker would not seek approval for use in the general population until late January 2021. If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, its approval could take until early April 2021.

“I think a late first quarter, early second quarter approval is a reasonable timeline, based on what we know from our vaccine,” Bancel said.

The timeline is a setback for the pharmaceutical company that announced earlier this month that it could seek authorization for its vaccine candidate as early as Nov. 1. It also deals a blow to President Donald Trump, whose administration has already purchased 100 million doses of the company’s experimental coronavirus vaccine at $15 per dose.

During the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Trump claimed that a vaccine will be available for widespread distribution in December, despite a prediction from Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that it is unlikely a vaccine will be available until the second or third quarter of next year, CBS News reported.

“We’re weeks away from a vaccine,” the president said during Tuesday night’s debate. “I’ve spoken to Pfizer, I’ve spoken to all of the people that you have to speak to — Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and others. They can go faster than that by a lot.”

Seven potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates are now undergoing late-stage testing, including Pfizer. In media appearances, the company’s chief executive Dr. Albert Bourla has repeatedly said that they expect a “conclusive readout” of their vaccine by October. He also said Pfizer is prepared to apply for emergency authorization, as reported by the New York Times.

“Right now, our model — our best-case — predicts that we will have an answer by the end of October,” Bourla said.

A US biotech firm Moderna has reported 'positive interim' results in early testing of a vaccine candidate
A US biotech firm Moderna has reported 'positive interim' results in early testing of a vaccine candidate AFP / Thibault Savary