Moderna vaccine to be available in the UK from April - what you need to know about the jab
The UK’s Covid vaccination programme will slow down in April due to a “significant reduction” in supplies, according to a letter published by NHS England.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said a delay in AstraZeneca jab deliveries from India and the need to retest a batch of 1.7 million doses is behind the shortfall in coronavirus vaccine supply.
Mr Hancock maintained that the rollout was still on track to offer a first Covid vaccine dose to all 32 million people in the top nine priority groups by 15 April as planned.
But the under-50s group could now have to wait until May to get a vaccination - a month later than hoped - as the UK expects a third approved Covid jab to become available.
Here’s when the Moderna jab will be available in the UK, where it will be delivered from and how many doses are expected to arrive.
When will the Moderna vaccine be available in the UK?
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday 17 March, Mr Hancock said that UK supplies of the Moderna vaccine are due in the coming weeks.
The Moderna jab was initially thought to be available for deployment as part of the vaccination programme “from the spring” when the UK made its order.
This was to allow time for facilities in Europe to become established and ready to distribute the vaccine which is being manufactured in the United States.
Its arrival is expected at a time when the UK is facing a “significant reduction” in Covid vaccine supplies for four weeks after 29 March, according to NHS England.
Moderna’s jab was given the green light by UK regulators on 8 January 2021 - becoming the third Covid vaccine to be approved after the Oxford and Pfizer jabs.
Where is the Moderna vaccine being made?
Moderna is a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in the United States.
Founded in 2010, the biotech firm was previously known as ModeRNA Therapeutics until 2018 when it was rebranded as Moderna and used the MRNA ticker symbol.
It was set up by a group of investors, with one of its founders Noubar Afeyan also holding the position of chairman within the company, based in Massachusetts.
Its Covid vaccine reported a 94% efficacy rating from stage three trials in November 2020 which led to an emergency use authorisation in the US, Canada and Europe.
The company is using a new facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, to make the vaccine.
How many doses of the Moderna vaccine has the UK ordered?
The UK government’s Covid vaccine taskforce has acquired 367 million doses from seven different suppliers overall, including 17 million approved Moderna jabs.
The AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine makes up the largest proportion of that total, with 100 million doses ordered, followed by Valneva (60m), Novavax (60m), Sanofi (60m), Pfizer (40m), Janssen (30m) and Moderna (17m).
Will the UK get its vaccine supply from Europe on time?
In response to a question that vaccine exports could be blocked by the EU, Mr Hancock said it was “vital” to work together in the supply and distribution of Covid vaccines.
He added: “These supply chains for the manufacture of these vaccines cross borders.
“They are often global supply chains and it is vital that we work together to deliver them and there is a need for that co-operation and there is of course a need for all countries to respect contract law.
“That is the basis of international trade and I’m sure that the European Union will live up to the commitments and statements that it has made, including president [Ursula] von der Leyen herself, who has said that there should not be restrictions on companies when they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.
“Of course there should not and we fully expect those contracts to be delivered on because there are very significant consequences to breaking contract law.”