Moderna vaccine: how many doses has the UK ordered, how does it compare to Oxford and Pfizer jabs, when is it available?
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The Moderna vaccine is the third Covid vaccine to be approved for use in the UK.
In some positive coronavirus news, the Department for Health announced the authorisation on Friday 8 January.
The US-based company’s jab joins the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines that have already been approved and rolled out in the country.
Moderna’s vaccine was shown to be 94 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in final trials.
Here’s everything you need to know about the vaccine - including when it will become available in the UK.
How many doses have been ordered?
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised the Moderna vaccine for use in the UK, after months of extensive clinical trials.
The UK Government has said it has purchased a further 10 million doses of the jab so people can be inoculated as quickly as possible.
That was on top of the existing order of 7 million doses, which will take the total number of Moderna vaccine doses in the UK to 17 million.
Speaking about the approval, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is further great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.
“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.”
Including the Moderna vaccine, the UK has ordered 367 million doses of jabs in total in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.
The Pfizer and Oxford vaccines are already being rolled out to priority groups, and nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have been immunised so far.
The government has said more than 1,000 vaccination sites will soon be live across the country, in an attempt to quickly speed up the vaccination programme.
There is a target to deliver first vaccine doses to 15 million vulnerable people by 15 February.
When will the Moderna vaccine be available?
Despite the Moderna vaccine’s approval for UK use, supplies are not expected to be delivered until March.
This is because the jab is being manufactured in the US initially, and it will take longer before facilities in Europe will be ready to distribute doses.
Matt Hancock added: “Moderna’s vaccine will allow us to accelerate our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring.”
It is hoped that when the vaccine does reach the UK, it will help to ease any delays in the vaccination programme.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will submit updated advice on which groups will be prioritised for inoculation before doses become available.
How does it compare to the other vaccines?
The Moderna vaccine is much easier to distribute than the Pfizer/BioNTech one, which needs to be stored at around -70C.
Moderna’s, on the other hand, has been shown to last for up to 30 days in household fridges and at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
It can also remain stable at -20C - the same temperature as most household or medical freezers - for up to six months.
Meanwhile, the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is the easiest to store and distribute, as it can be kept at normal fridge temperature.
The Moderna vaccine has shown similar levels of efficacy to the Pfizer vaccine, at around 95 per cent, and the two jabs work in a similar way.
Both vaccines use synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA), a genetic material that contains information about the spike protein (the part of the virus which enters human cells).
The jabs provide the body with instructions to produce a small amount of this protein which, once detected by the immune system, leads to a protective antibody response.
Trial data from Moderna also suggests that the vaccine is highly effective in preventing people getting ill and works across all age groups, including the elderly.
Similarly, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs have both been shown to work effectively in older people.