Moderna COVID Vaccine Due to Be Authorized, Shipped Over Weekend, Says Alex Azar

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is set to be authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and shipped out over the weekend, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Friday.

"The FDA has communicated to Moderna that we expect to grant their emergency use authorization, that could come as soon as today," Azar told Good Morning America on Friday. "So more good Friday vaccine news."

"Trucks will roll, planes will fly this weekend—5.9 million doses of Moderna vaccine allocated for next week," Azar said.

On Thursday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, issued a statement saying the agency had informed the manufacturer it will rapidly work toward "finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization."

"The agency has also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution," the statement read.

During the Good Morning America interview, Azar sought to reassure members of the public who are hesitant over receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, describing both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech shots as "exceptionally safe" and "shockingly effective."

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for emergency use by the FDA earlier this month and the rollout of the shot across the country has already begun.

EXCLUSIVE: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tells our @GStephanopoulos that the FDA could grant emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine as early as today. https://t.co/7vy0pc9xKJ pic.twitter.com/dlGaX7qZxb

— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 18, 2020

"We're just going to keep trying to get the word out there that all of us have complete confidence in the independence and quality of the FDA's review process," Azar said.

"That's why you're seeing the Vice President, the Second Lady, the Surgeon General today getting vaccinated. We're going to be pacing out leaders getting vaccinated over the coming weeks."

Azar said he planned on getting vaccinated next week on live TV, if the White House physician said it was appropriate to do so.

"We wouldn't asked you to do something that we wouldn't do," Azar said.

On Friday, President Donald Trump said on Twitter: "Moderna vaccine overwhelmingly approved. Distribution to start immediately," Trump said.

Moderna vaccine overwhelmingly approved. Distribution to start immediately.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2020

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, told NBC News he expects the rollout of the Moderna vaccine to begin early next week.

"I would anticipate that we likely will see shots in the arm by the very early part of next week I would hope Monday or Tuesday, but you know we just have to wait to see for the final decision. But very soon literally within a few days," he said.

This breaking story has been updated with additional information.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
This file photo taken on November 18 shows a syringe and a bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to the Moderna company logo. JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images