The British government have secured another two million doses of a coronavirus vaccine which trials suggest is 95 per cent effective.
It brings the total number of jabs on order from the US firm Moderna to seven million – enough for around 3.5 million people in the UK.
The vaccine has yet to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), but doses could begin being delivered next spring if it meets the standards.
‘More positive news’
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 placed orders for 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine – enough to vaccinate most of the population – with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved by the MHRA.
It also has orders for 40 million doses of the jab from Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been shown to be 95 per cent effective.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Every week, we are getting more positive news about the range of vaccines in development, and thanks to the work of our taskforce the UK has pre-ordered more hundreds of millions of doses from those companies most advanced in their work.
“This includes buying a further two million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, on top of the five million we’ve already secured.
“With a wide range of vaccine candidates in our portfolio, we stand ready to deploy a vaccine should they receive approval from our medicines regulator, starting with those who will benefit most.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma added: “It is essential that we continue to bolster our portfolio of vaccine candidates to ensure we’re in the best possible position to protect the public once we see that breakthrough.
“The UK was one of the first countries in Europe to sign a deal with Moderna, and I’m delighted we have been able to secure a further two million doses of their promising candidate for the British public.”
‘Safe and effective’
And Kate Bingham, who chairs the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, said: “Since its inception in June, one of the most important stated aims of the Vaccines Taskforce has been to secure access to the most promising vaccines across a broad range of technologies – thereby increasing the chances of having a safe and effective prevention as soon as possible against Covid 19.
“Moderna’s vaccine was an important addition to our portfolio and securing an additional two million doses further adds to the protection we can provide to the public to end the pandemic.”
The UK is set to become the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for use, meaning that the first injections could take place within days.
An independent regulator is set to grant approval to the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer within days, with deliveries expected to begin within hours of authorisation, the FT reported.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the two-shot vaccine – which was found to be more than 95 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus.