UK regulators have approved the use of a third Covid-19 vaccine, developed by US pharmaceutical firm Moderna, for use in the country outside of clinical trials.
The Government had already secured seven million doses of the Moderna vaccine pre-emptively, with an additional 10 million doses having now been ordered since its approval.
Operating very similarly to the already approved Pfizer vaccine, the newly-approved Moderna vaccine will help further boost the country’s vaccination potential – though due to similar limiting storage conditions is likely to mostly see use in hospital and similar settings.
Although the UK Government has now ordered 17 million doses of the vaccine, supply is not anticipated to arrive in the UK until spring.
So far in the UK, around 1.5 million people have received their first of two vaccine jabs. This includes almost a quarter of those aged over 80 in England.
Vaccinations are being carried out in a priority order, with the Government having outlined nine high priority groups – including those in care homes and healthcare professionals – who will be the first to receive vaccination appointments.
The vaccine will be available for free and the Government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.
“Through our vaccine delivery plan, we have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK. The Moderna vaccine will boost our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring.
“While we immunise those most at risk from Covid-19, I urge everyone to continue following the rules to keep cases low to protect our loved ones.”