Matt Hancock has announced that the UK has secured initial agreement for five million doses of the Moderna vaccine for coronavirus.
The vaccine, from the US, may be 94.5% effective against the illness and has been hailed as ‘tremendously exciting’.
Interim data suggests the jab is highly effective in preventing people getting ill and may work across all age groups, including the elderly.
The UK has already secured 40 million doses of a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, which uses the same technology as Moderna and should be in the UK before Christmas.
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Matt Hancock told a press briefing this evening: ‘Neither of these vaccines is approved and we haven’t seen the full safety data; we can’t be sure.’
But he said it was ‘good news’ that we had some of the Moderna vaccine.
A Government spokesman said earlier: ‘The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine.
‘As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the Government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
‘Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.’
Scientists said the news bodes well for other Covid-19 vaccines, with the one for Oxford University and UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca due to report in the coming days or weeks.
Moderna intends to submit an application for an emergency use authorisation with the US Food and Drug Administration shortly and will submit further data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.
The firm’s final-stage clinical trial is ongoing and includes more than 30,000 people in the US.
The early-stage, interim analysis included 95 participants with confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 90 had received the placebo and five the active vaccine.
The 95 cases included 15 older adults – aged 65 and over – as well as 20 people who were not white, including 12 from Hispanic or Latino/a backgrounds, four African-Americans, three Asian-Americans and one who was multiracial.
Severe cases of coronavirus were also examined, including 11 in the first interim analysis.
All 11 cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the group which had received the vaccine, known currently as mRNA-1273.
Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said he ‘grinned ear to ear’ when learning about the potential efficacy of the vaccine.
He told BBC News: ‘When we got the news from the data and safety monitoring board. I’ll admit I broke character and grinned ear to ear for a minute.
‘Because I didn’t expect, I don’t think any of us really hoped that the vaccine would be 94% effective at preventing Covid-19 disease, that was really a stunning realisation.’
He said combined with data suggesting it can stop severe Covid-19, it means ‘that the vaccine really is a terrific tool for stopping the pandemic and hopefully stopping the worst of the disease that people are facing’.
He added: ‘When you combine it with the news of last week of Pfizer’s vaccine, you’ve got now two vaccines that are over 90% effective.
‘It really means I think we have the tools necessary to finally beat this virus back and I think that’s probably the best news of the day for all of us, is that there really are now solutions in our hands and we need to deliver them to the people who can use them.’
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