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UK approves Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, secures another 10 million doses

Total number of doses secured by UK now totals 17 million

Moderna’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine has received a temporary authorisation from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), making it the third vaccine to approved for use in the UK.

The MHRA has already authorised COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford University. Currently around 1.5 million people in the UK having had at least one dose of a COVID-19 jab.

Following the approval, the UK has secured an additional 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, taking its total to 17 million doses.

The first deliveries are expected to reach the UK from Moderna's dedicated non-US supply chain in the Spring – giving “authorities more time to set clear policy for its delivery”, said NHS Confederation chief executive Danny Mortimer.

“In the meantime, NHS teams are working exceptionally hard to give the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to priority groups, and they look forward to greater access to the AstraZeneca vaccine and greater local control over its distribution,” he added.

Earlier this week, rollout of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine began at GP sites in England, in a bid to help the nationwide effort to vaccinate everyone over 70 years of age and individuals who are clinically ‘extremely vulnerable’ by mid-February.

The UK government is also aiming to vaccinate all care home residents by the end of January, while the second phase of the vaccination programme will aim to immunise the remaining population.

However, clinicians and GP surgeries have been reporting delays in vaccine supplies, potentially hindering the mass vaccination efforts.

"The rate-limiting step is the supply of vaccines. We're working with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca to increase the supply,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday.

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines must be kept at low temperatures of -70°C and -20°C respectively.

By contrast, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of +2°C – 8°C, making it both easier and safer to distribute.

In response to the Moderna vaccine authorisation, MHRA chief executive June Raine said that the agency will continue to monitor the vaccine, ensuring that “the benefits in protecting people against COVID-19 continue to far outweigh any potential side-effects”.

The European Commission, which also approved the Moderna vaccine this week, similarly said that the company will continue to provide data on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy for the next two years.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

8th January 2021

From: Regulatory

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