The approval marks the third vaccine given the green light in the UK after injections produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford.
The UK has approved the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the third to receive the green light from the country’s drug regulatory authorities.
The Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) said in a statement that the Moderna vaccine meets “strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality” set by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency. (MHRA).
The UK now has 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine on order, and supplies will begin to arrive later this year once Moderna, a US company, increases production capacity.
The injection of Pfizer-BioNTech and the one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have already been deployed across Great Britain as part of a mass vaccination program.
“We have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK and Moderna’s vaccine will allow us to speed up our vaccination schedule even further once doses are available from the spring,” said Health Minister Matt Hancock.
“This is another great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this terrible disease.”
UK records virus-related deaths on par with some of the worst days at the start of the pandemic. Government figures on Thursday showed an additional 1,162 people are believed to have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
The total number of virus-related deaths in the UK is now 78,508. According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the UK has the most COVID-related deaths in Europe and the fifth in the world.
‘A crumb of comfort’
British officials aim to have given a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to some 15 million people deemed to be most at risk to the virus by mid-February – including all people over the age of 70 in the country .
This, the government says, could facilitate a new strict lockdown imposed after an increase in cases in daily records.
While Moderna’s vaccine will not help meet this goal, it will help ease the supply constraints that Hancock cited as a limiting factor in the rollout.
“This is great news and a crumb of added comfort amid the huge 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 ease any bottlenecks or delays in the delivery schedule.”
The UK was the first country to approve the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, but has lagged behind some others in giving the green light to the Moderna vaccine.
The Moderna vaccine has already received regulatory approval for use in the United States, Canada, the European Union and Israel.
It has been shown to be 94% effective in preventing serious COVID infections in advanced clinical trials.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech injections are mRNA vaccines, made with revolutionary new technology.
They don’t contain any coronavirus, which means they can’t cause infection. Instead, they use a piece of genetic code that trains the immune system to recognize the spike protein on the surface of the virus, ready to attack if reality arises.