The Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.
By January 6, over 1.3 million people in the UK had been vaccinated against coronavirus – and that number is only going to go up with this news. UK regulators have approved a third vaccine, developed by Moderna, an American biotechnology company, for use by the NHS. It joins the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as well as the one developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca, in being approved for use in the UK, and gives health services greater capacity and flexibility in rolling out the vaccine.
Rigorous testing of the Moderna vaccine proved that it was both safe and efficacious in guarding against coronavirus, and the final step was waiting for approval from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), which had been rumoured for the past few days. With their approval now given, and with 17 million doses of the vaccine on order by the UK government (enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people), the vaccine will start to be rolled out across the country in the spring, as the BBC reports.
The Moderna vaccine, though later to arrive than the Pfizer/BioNTech counterpart, does have distinct advantages that make it easier to store and distribute. For instance, whilst the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -70°C, the Moderna vaccine can be stored at -20°C for up to six months. This news comes after the government announced the locations of seven mass Covid-19 vaccination centres, including one in Birmingham, as well as the Oxford vaccine being rolled out to over 700 sites this week.
The new doses are expected to kick the UK’s vaccination program into top gear, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying: “This is further great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.”
Nadhim Zahawi, vaccine deployment minister, said: “The NHS is pulling out all the stops to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible, with over 1,000 vaccination sites live across the UK by the end of the week to provide easy access to everyone, regardless of where they live. The Moderna vaccine will be a vital boost to these efforts and will help us return to normal faster.” Here’s hoping!