The UK has today secured 5m doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, which proved 95 per cent effective in late-stage clinical trials, the health secretary has announced.
Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Matt Hancock said: “I can announce that we have today an initial agreement for 5m doses of the Moderna vaccine.”
The doses will mean enough to vaccinate around 2.5m people against coronavirus.
Hancock added that results from its preliminary trials was “excellent news”, and that the UK could expect the vaccine to be rolled out by the spring if proven safe.
It comes after ministers entered crunch talks with Moderna executives this afternoon in a bid to secure a UK supply, after breakthrough data was dampened by revelations that Britain was not on Moderna’s order books.
Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, followed by telling the BBC he hoped his firm would be able to supply “substantial quantities” of its coronavirus vaccine to Britain.
The results came hot on the heels of Pfizer’s breakthrough announcement last week that its experimental Covid vaccine proved 90 per cent effective in trials.
Although trials of the Moderna vaccine were smaller than the international ones held by Pfizer, the Moderna jab may prove easier to distribute globally because it does not have to be stored and transported at sub-zero temperatures.
It has been shown to last for up to 30 days in household fridges and at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
So far, the UK has secured 355m doses of potential vaccines produced by seven different companies.
Business secretary Alok Sharma today said it was important that Britain spread its chances across a range of vaccines because vaccination across the population would not be achieved by a “one-size fits all” drug.
“The speed at which scientists around the world have worked on a vaccine has been incredible, and it is thanks to their ingenuity that we are on the cusp of one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent years,” said Sharma.
“While this is exciting news, I urge the public to not be complacent — we are at a critical point in the pandemic and in order to save lives we must continue to follow guidance by maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and washing our hands regularly.”
Kate Bingham, chair of the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, said: “Today’s news from Moderna is very encouraging. The Moderna mRNA vaccine has posted excellent efficacy data to date from its initial phase three readout.
“The government’s Vaccine Taskforce are pursuing a portfolio approach to obtaining vaccines for the UK across different vaccine formats, to maximise the chances of finding safe and effective vaccines.”
Hancock also announced the government will launch a network of 40 clinics across the UK to tackle Long Covid.
Half a million people in Britain are understood to be struggling with lingering symptoms of Covid-19, including fatigue, breathlessness and chest pain.
A study published yesterday by Coverscan found that 70 per cent of “low risk” individuals who had previously contracted coronavirus incurred lasting damage in one or more organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas.