The UK medicines regulator has approved Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization against the coronavirus pandemic, making it the third shot to be cleared in the country as infections surge.
The country’s Department of Health in a press statement on Friday, January 8, 2021, said that the approval follows months of rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and an extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the authorization of the US company’s Covid-19 vaccine by the UK medicine regulator is coming at a time the country is ramping up its immunizations against the fast-spreading coronavirus with casualty figures now at over 78,000.
The statement said that the UK government has agreed to purchase an additional 10 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, on top of the 7 million it previously ordered, bringing the total to 17 million, with delivery beginning in the spring, once Moderna expands its production capacity.
The regulator also approved the shot on a 2-dose regimen, given 4-weeks interval, after authorizing a longer gap for other vaccines.
What the UK Health Secretary is saying
The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said that this is further great news and another weapon in the country’s arsenal to tame the awful disease, just as they have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK.
Matt Hancock, in a statement, said,
- “This is another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease. The Moderna vaccine will boost our vaccination program even further once doses become available from the spring.”
The Moderna share price rose by 1.7% in premarket US trading on the news of the approval.
The Covid-19 shot from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford won U.K. clearance late last month. That followed authorization of another vaccine, from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, in early December. The European Union and the U.S. have also cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna products.
Moderna shares rose 1.7% in premarket U.S. trading following the news of the approval.
What you should know
- The UK was the first western country to approve a coronavirus vaccine and is ahead of its European neighbours on rolling out immunizations. The country had earlier authorized for emergency use the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine in December.
- The Moderna vaccine was certified 94% effective in preventing disease and is slightly easier to transport and store than the Pfizer vaccine, which requires deep freezing and must be used within 5 days of thawing. The Moderna shot must also be kept frozen but can survive refrigerated for up to a month.
- The European Commission (EU), on Wednesday, earlier authorized the use of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine across the European Union’s 27 member countries, hours after the European Medicine Agency recommended that it should do so, with deliveries set to commence next week.
- The 27-member bloc also doubled its potential supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot on Friday, ordering as many as 300 million more doses.