Moderna has said it is filing for regulatory approval in the US, and that its vaccine trials have shown no serious safety concerns.
The US-based company has also said its vaccine was 94.1% effective, with 100% efficacy against severe COVID-19 in its phase three trial.
Efficacy was consistent across age, race and ethnicity, as well as gender, the company has said.
Moderna said it would also apply for conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency, which has already started a rolling review of the data.
Speaking to Reuters news agency, chief medical officer Dr Tal Zaks said: “We believe that we have a vaccine that is very highly efficacious. We now have the data to prove it.
“We expect to be playing a major part in turning around this pandemic.”
Dr Zaks admitted he was emotional after seeing the 94.1% result: “It was the first time I allowed myself to cry,” he said.
“At this level of effectiveness, when you just do the math of what it means for the pandemic that’s raging around us, it’s just overwhelming.”
If the approval process is successful, Moderna’s chief executive Stephane Bancel said the first injections could be given on 21 December, reported The New York Times.
The product is the second vaccine expected to receive US emergency use authorisation this year following a shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which had a 95% efficacy rate in trials.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines proved more effective than anticipated and far superior to the 50% benchmark set by the US Food and Drug Administration.
After the announcement by Moderna, health secretary Alex Azar said the first two vaccines could be administered to Americans before Christmas.
Mr Azar told CBS that he and Vice President Mike Pence will speak to the nation’s governors on Monday to discuss the vaccines and which groups of people should be prioritised to receive them first.
Last week, it was revealed Americans could start receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as early as 11 December , according to the chief scientific adviser for the US government’s vaccine programme.
Dr Moncef Slaoui, part of Operation Warp Speed, told NBC: “Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses.”