Third COVID-19 vaccine approved in the UK

Supplies of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive in the UK in the spring.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was evaluated in a phase 3 study in 30,000 people in the US. | GETTY IMAGES
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was evaluated in a phase 3 study in 30,000 people in the US. | GETTY IMAGES

The Moderna vaccine follows on the heels of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which were authorised for temporary supply by the MHRA on 2 December and 30 December, respectively.

Around 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be available from the spring, after the government announced it had ordered an extra 10 million doses of the vaccine on top of a previous order of 7 million doses. 

Like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is based on mRNA technology but has slightly less stringent storage requirements, needing to be kept at -25 to 15°C.

Two doses are given, with the recommendation that the second dose be given 28 days after the first. As with the Pfizer vaccine, patients should be observed for 15 minutes after vaccination. 

In its phase III study the vaccine was 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 from 2 weeks after the second dose.

Vaccination campaign

The Moderna vaccine approval comes after the government announced yesterday that a total of 1.5 million people across the UK have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with vaccination sites in England beginning to roll out the first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine this week.

GPonline reports that the UK government has ordered a total of 367 million doses of seven COVID-19 vaccines either approved or in development:

  • BioNTech/Pfizer - 40 million doses
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca - 100 million doses
  • Moderna - 17 million doses
  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur - 60 million doses
  • Novavax - 60 million doses
  • Janssen - 30 million doses
  • Valneva - 60 million doses.
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