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Third coronavirus vaccine given approval for use in UK in spring

A third coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, but doses will not be available in Peterborough and other UK cities until the spring.
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Another Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, ahead of a rollout in spring (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The jab from US biotech firm Moderna has been given approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca which are both already being rolled out across Peterborough.

Unlike those previous jabs, however, the Moderna vaccine will not be available for use straight away, with the first doses not expected to arrive until the spring.

The government also purchased an additional 10 million doses of the vaccine on top of its previous order of seven million, taking the total to 17 million.

Supplies will begin to be delivered to the UK from spring once Moderna expands its production capability, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The US-based company's vaccine is 94% effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly, and the UK government was one of the first to sign an agreement with the company to supply the vaccine. It is also found to have 100% efficacy against severe Covid-19.

Upon hearing 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."

Here's what we know about the Moderna vaccine:

  • More than 30,000 people in the US took part, from a wide range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Two doses were given 28 days apart so researchers could evaluate safety and any reaction to the vaccine.
  • The analysis was based on 196 cases, of which 185 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 11 cases observed in the active vaccine group. Moderna also released data relating to severe cases.
  • All 30 severe cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the group which had received the vaccine, known currently as mRNA-1273.

Moderna said the vaccine was generally well tolerated, with no serious safety concerns identified to date.

Events after the first dose included injection-site pain, and after the second dose included fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), headache, other pain and redness at the injection site - but these were generally short-lived.

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."