Britain’s medical regulator approved the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, the Health Ministry said, adding that it had agreed to buy an additional 10 million doses of the injection while contemplating launching the injection in spring.
Three COVID-19 vaccines have now been approved for use in Britain, with the injection from Pfizer // BioNTech and one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca already being rolled out.
The Moderna vaccine is not expected to participate in the first stage of the vaccine launch in Great Britain. Britain now has orders for 17 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, and supplies will begin shipping to the UK from spring once Moderna expands its production capacity.
“We have already vaccinated almost 1.5 million people across the UK and Moderna’s vaccine will allow us to accelerate our vaccination schedule even further once doses are available from spring,” said the health minister. Matt Hancock.
Britain was the first to approve the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, bidding to speed up the launch of the vaccine rapidly, but it is behind other major countries in giving the green light to the Moderna vaccine.
Moderna’s vaccine was 94% effective in preventing disease in late-stage clinical trials, and has already been given regulatory approval for use in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Israel.
Britain is trying to vaccinate the elderly, vulnerable and front-line workers – around 15 million people – in mid-February to ease a new strict lockdown imposed after a spike in daily registrations.
While Moderna’s vaccine won’t help achieve that goal, it will help alleviate supply limitations that Hancock has cited as a limiting factor at launch.
“This is excellent news and one more crumb of comfort amid the enormous levels of COVID-19 currently circulating in the UK,” said Michael Head, senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton.
“When these Moderna vaccines arrive, they will help alleviate bottlenecks or delays in the administration schedule.”