Moderna vaccine becomes third Covid jab approved in the UK
BRITAIN has today approved a third Covid vaccine in a boost to efforts to beat the pandemic.
UK regulators have now recommended the use of the Moderna jab – which is 94 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus.
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Seven million doses of the US-based company's vaccine had already been ordered but the Government today announced an additional 10 million have been purchased.
However supplies will not be available for NHS use until the spring – once Moderna expands its production capability, the Department of Health said.
That's because it's being manufactured in the States first and will take a few months before facilities in Europe are ready to distribute.
The jab is the third to be given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), along with the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
It came as:
- All travellers to England and Scotland from international destinations will have to test negative for Covid before they can enter the country
- Boris Johnson revealed nearly 1.5million Brits had received their first vaccine dose so far
- The PM also vowed people won't have to travel more than 10 miles to their nearest vaccination centre
- The UK recorded 52,618 new COVID-19 coronavirus cases and 1,162 additional deaths
- Matt Hancock laid out four criteria for lifting Britain's lockdown – and said he thinks this third lockdown will be the last
- Cops warned they would step up fines of people not wearing masks and breaking lockdown laws
Welcoming the news, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.
“Through our vaccine delivery plan we have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK.
"The Moderna vaccine will boost our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring.
“While we immunise those most at risk from Covid, I urge everyone to continue following the rules to keep cases low to protect our loved ones.”
Vaccines available to the UK
THE UK government has placed orders for seven different vaccines – totalling more than 300 million jabs
- AstraZeneca/Oxford university – 100 million doses – Approved
- Pfizer/BioNTech – 40 million doses – Approved
- Moderna – 17 million doses – Approved
- Janssen – 30 million doses – Phase 3 trials
- Novavax – 60 million doses – Phase 3 trials
- Valneva – 60 million doses – Phase 1/2 trials
- GSK/Sanofi – 60 million doses – Phase 1/2 trials
The Moderna vaccine was hailed as "tremendously exciting" when the US pharmaceutical company posted its phase three clinical trial results in November.
Its trial involved more than 30,000 people, half of whom received the vaccine and the other half received a placebo.
The vaccine demonstrated a 94.1 per cent efficacy in the trial and 90.9 per cent efficacy in participants at risk of severe Covid-19.
Moderna's jab is easier to distribute than Pfizer's, which has to be stored at -70C, as it has been shown to last up to 30 days in household fridges.
Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, said when the Moderna jab arrives in the UK it will "help to ease any bottlenecks or delays in the administration programme".
He added: "The early administrations in other countries such as the USA have been successful with no significant issues raised in terms of safety.”
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: "Having a third Covid-19 vaccine approved for supply following a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data is an important goal to have achieved and I am proud that the agency has helped to make this a reality.
“The progress we are now making for vaccines on the regulatory front, whilst not cutting any corners, is helping in our global fight against this disease and ultimately helping to save lives."
She added that once in use, all Covid-19 vaccines are continually monitored by the regulator.
"This ensures that the benefits in protecting people against Covid-19 continue to far outweigh any potential side-effects," she said.
“Meantime, even if you have had a vaccine it is vital that everyone follows the national lockdown restrictions and remembers ‘stay alert, protect the NHS and save lives’ at all times.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he was "delighted" that 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine had been ordered, following news of its approval for use in the UK.
He tweeted: "NEW: the @Moderna_tx vaccine is authorised for use in the UK!
"I'm also delighted confirm the @beisgovukVaccine Taskforce has today secured a further 10m doses of their vaccine, taking our total order to 17m.
"Another huge step towards ending lockdown and returning to normal life."
Authorisation of the Moderna jab comes just days after the end of the Brexit transition period, and two days after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the jab for adults.
As part of the transition period, until the end of December 2020, Covid-19 vaccine candidates authorised via the EMA would have automatically been valid in the UK.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the Moderna vaccine will be available for free and the Government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK.
Like the other two vaccines, the Moderna vaccine will be deployed through hospital hubs for NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated, through local community services with local teams and GPs, and through vaccination centres across the country.
Deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: "The highly effective Moderna vaccine is another impressive success for science and is another testament to the hard work of researchers and selfless clinical trial volunteers.
"This vaccine will save lives once doses become available, but it is crucial we all continue to follow the rules to protect each other until enough people have been protected."
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice on which groups to prioritise for vaccination before doses become available.
RAPID ROLL OUT
It comes a week after Britain's own Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use with the first jabs going into people's arms this week.
GP surgeries started their roll out yesterday and community pharmacies are set to start offering jabs from next week.
Boris Johnson last night vowed to vaccinate at least 200,000 Brits a day by next week — with the Army drafted in to help rapidly roll out jabs.
The Prime Minister also revealed that nearly 1.5 million people had been given their first dose so far.
A new national booking service for people to be vaccinated will also be unveiled – and no one will have to travel more than ten miles to get one, the PM added.
Mr Johnson said more than 1,400 hospitals, GP practices and pharmacies would be immunising patients by the end of next week.
And he insisted he had "no doubt" that there would be enough supply to offer everyone in the top four vulnerable groups a vaccine by his February 15 deadline.
The PM also vowed Brits will not have to travel more than 10 miles to their nearest vaccination centre as 1,200 hubs plan to open next week.
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