The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use by the medicines regulator.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Human Medicines and authorised the Moderna vaccine following months of rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and an extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.
The vaccine is 94% effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly, and the government was one of the first to sign an agreement with the company to supply the vaccine on behalf of the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
The Government has agreed to purchase an additional 10 million doses of the Moderna vaccine on top of its previous order of 7 million, taking the total to 17 million. As agreed when the UK originally pre-ordered the vaccine, supplies will begin to be delivered to the UK from Spring once Moderna expands its production capability.
The vaccine will be available for free and the government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“This is further great news and 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.
“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.”
Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, with more than 1,000 vaccination sites live by the end of the week across the UK to rapidly scale up the vaccination programme.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice on which groups to prioritise for vaccination before doses become available.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“Vaccines are the key to releasing us all from the grip of this pandemic, and today’s news is yet another important step towards ending lockdown and returning to normal life.
“The UK was one of the first countries in Europe to sign a deal with Moderna, and I’m delighted our Vaccine Taskforce has secured an additional 10 million doses of their highly-effective vaccine to protect the British public and save lives.
“From the scientists and trial volunteers to our world-class regulators and clinicians, we are enormously grateful to everyone who has played their part in this national effort to defeat the virus and get our country back on its feet.”
The NHS has decades of experience in rolling out successful widespread vaccination programmes and is putting into place extensive preparations for the roll out of the Moderna vaccine ahead of the Spring.
The Moderna vaccine will be deployed through similar methods:
• hospital hubs for NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated;
• local community services with local teams and GPs already signing up to take part in the programme;
• vaccination centres across the country, ensuring people can access a vaccine regardless of where they live.
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi 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.”
Through the Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 367 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccines so far. To date, the government has invested over £230 million into manufacturing a successful vaccine. In the Chancellor’s Spending Review, published on 25 November, it was announced that the government has made more than £6 billion available to develop and procure successful vaccines.
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.”
Interim Chair of the government’s Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said:
“This is another important milestone in our efforts to end this pandemic, and I would like to thank those in the government’s Vaccine Taskforce who have worked so hard to negotiate agreements with vaccine developers.
A key objective for the Vaccine Taskforce is to ensure we have a range of vaccines to deliver to the UK population. The addition of the Moderna Vaccine to the UK's portfolio is important to reach that goal.”