The Department for Health announced on Friday that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has given the green light to the US pharmaceutical company’s vaccine, making it the third to receive approval in the UK so far.
The announcement comes as the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines is scaled up in order to meet Boris Johnson’s target of immunising all care home patients by the end of the month, with 1,000 vaccination centres expected to be operational by Sunday.
To help its mass vaccination scheme, the UK has also ordered 10 million more doses of the Moderna vaccine, bringing its total order to 17 million.
Unlike the other two jabs, this vaccine will not be immediately available, with the first doses predicted to arrive in the spring. This is because it will take time for Moderna to ramp up its production capacity.
Health secretary Matt Hancock praised the approval of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine as “another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease”.
“We have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK and Moderna’s vaccine will allow us to accelerate our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring,” he added.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, hailed the jab’s approval as “another impressive success for science”, achieved through ‘the hard work of researchers and selfless clinical trial volunteers”.
The phase three trials of the Moderna jab suggest it is 94 per cent effective against the virus, roughly the same efficacy rate as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Both require two doses to be administered.
No one who was injected with the Moderna candidate during the tests went on to develop severe coronavirus and no serious safety concerns were identified.
Based on tests carried out on 30,000 volunteers, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval for the Moderna vaccine last month, the second vaccine to gain approval in the country.
Prominent figures such as Kamala Harris, the vice-president-elect, and Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, have already been given the Moderna jab to encourage others to receive immunisation against coronavirus.
The EU’s medical regulator approved the vaccine on Wednesday, a few days ahead of the UK.
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