The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Government has announced.

It is the third Covid vaccine to be approved by the MHRA, following the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (2 December) and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine (30 December).

The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective in preventing disease and is due to start being to delivered to the UK in the spring, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

The Government has ordered 17 million doses of the vaccine, it added.

According to DHSC, the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out through ‘similar methods’ to those seen in the vaccination programme so far, including via hospital hubs, local community services with local teams and GPs, and vaccination centres across the country.

Nadhim Zahawi, vaccine deployment minister, said there are now 1,000 vaccination sites operating and the NHS is ‘pulling out all the stops’ to vaccinate as quickly as possible.

He added: ‘The Moderna vaccine will be a vital boost to these efforts and will help us return to normal faster.’

Clive Dix, interim chair of the Government’s vaccine taskforce, said: ‘This is another important milestone in our efforts to end this pandemic, and I would like to thank those in the vaccine taskforce who have worked so hard to negotiate agreements with vaccine developers.

‘A key objective for the vaccine taskforce is to ensure we have a range of vaccines to deliver to the UK population. The addition of the Moderna vaccine to the UK’s portfolio is important to reach that goal.’

The DHSC said the vaccine taskforce has secured early access to 367 millions doses of seven of the ‘most promising’ vaccine candidates, including:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech for 40 million doses
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses
  • Moderna for 17 million doses
  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses
  • Novavax for 60 million doses
  • Janseen for 30 million doses
  • Valneva for 60 million doses

According to government figures, nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines.