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Researchers Probing if Moderna Dose Can Be Cut in Half to Boost Available Vaccines

Studies to take at least two months with FDA approval of any changes required.
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Researchers have begun studying whether the number of available vaccines against Covid-19 can be boosted by cutting the dosage of one developed by Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna Inc. Report, according to a published report Tuesday.

The study would take about two months, the New York Times reported, citing an interview with Dr. John Mascola, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health.

If the dose could be cut in half it would have the effect of doubling the available number of vaccines from Moderna. The Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine last month, making it the second available to fight the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Moderna’s vaccine is similar to one developed by Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and BionNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, but can be stored at higher temperatures, making distribution somewhat easier.

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The U.S. has fallen far behind its schedule for vaccinations. About 20 million Americans were supposed to have been inoculated against Covid by the end of December. However, only 17 million vaccines had been distributed as of Tuesday, and fewer than 5 million had been administered according to Centers for Disease Control data.

More than 350,000 Americans have died of Covid since the outbreak began almost one year ago. The pandemic has surged in recent weeks following the Thanksgiving and Christmas which saw millions of Americans traveling despite pleas from medical authorities not to.

Forecasts now suggest that even under the best circumstances, more than half a million Americans will have died of covid-19 by early April. 

Shares of Moderna fell $2.55, or 2.3%, to $109.18 in regular trading Tuesday.