Moderna Covid vaccine to be rolled out in UK this month

Lizzie RobertsTue, 6 April 2021, 5:12 pm

The vaccines minister said more Pfizer and Oxford/Astrazeneca doses will also arrive and the Janssen vaccine is 'coming through as well' - Heathcliff O'Malley
The vaccines minister said more Pfizer and Oxford/Astrazeneca doses will also arrive and the Janssen vaccine is ‘coming through as well’ – Heathcliff O’Malley
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

The Moderna Covid vaccine will be rolled out in around a fortnight, the vaccines minister has confirmed, with the UK having enough jabs to offer all adults their first dose by July.

Nadhim Zahawi said the jabs will be deployed “around the third week of April”, with “more volume” expected by May.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Breakfast that more Pfizer and Oxford/Astrazeneca doses will also arrive and the Janssen vaccine is “coming through as well”.

“I am confident that we will be able to meet our target of mid-April offering the vaccine to all over-50s and then at the end of July offering the vaccine to all adults,” he said.

How many people have been vaccinated in the UK?
How many people have been vaccinated in the UK?

Mr Zahawi re-confirmed the Government’s target after reports that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is considering proposals to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca jab in younger people.

If a restriction is confirmed, the rollout of the vaccination programme could be slowed significantly, with AstraZeneca jabs more than a fifth of the UK’s vaccine haul. The Government has secured a total of 457 million doses, of which 100 million are from AstraZeneca.

Dr Maggie Wearmouth, of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, who sits on the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) said she understood that initial supplies of the Moderna jab are “not anywhere near” those from AstraZeneca.

“They’re certainly not the answer which was what I was hoping, that we could just switch to another available vaccine. Most of the supply I gather at the moment is AstraZeneca,” she said.

Data up to April 5 shows that of the 37,119,083 jabs given in the UK so far, 31,622,367 were first doses – a rise of 40,744 on the previous day. Some 5,496,716 were second doses, an increase of 64,590.

It comes as modelling produced for Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), published this week, predicted that the speed of England’s vaccination rollout could be reduced to just 2.7 million a week until the end of July. In the latest figures from NHS England, 3,509,245 doses were given in the week ending March 28.

The paper said “the central rollout scenario” provided to academics by the Cabinet Office was “considerably slower” than previous predictions.

Elsewhere, data has shown that the Valneva Covid vaccine, set to be manufactured in the UK, produces a “strong immune response”.

An early-stage phase one/two study involving 153 people showed promising results for the jab, paving the way for phase three clinical trial. The vaccine was safe and generally well tolerated, with no safety concerns identified by an independent data safety monitoring board.

The company said the results showed the jab was “highly immunogenic, with more than 90 per cent of all study participants developing significant levels of antibodies” to the Covid virus spike protein. The vaccine also induced T-cell responses, which help the body fend off a virus and play a role in long-lasting immunity.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: “The UK Government has funded these clinical trials, and it is fantastic to see Valneva’s vaccine produces a strong immune response.”

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