The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has become the third vaccine to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This is the second mRNA vaccine to be approved after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved in December 2020. The UK has now ordered 17 million doses of the vaccine but it is not expected to be available until the Spring.
In trials with more than 30,000, the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly. It can also be kept cold in an ordinary freezer, whereas the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept at –70°C.
MHRA Chief Executive Dr June Raine said: "Today’s approval brings more encouraging news to the public and the healthcare sector. Having a third COVID-19 vaccine approved for supply following a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data is an important goal to have achieved and I am proud that the agency has helped to make this a reality.
"The progress we are now making for vaccines on the regulatory front, whilst not cutting any corners, is helping in our global fight against this disease and ultimately helping to save lives. I want to echo that our goal is always to put the protection of the public first."
How does Moderna vaccine work?
Once in use, all Covid-19 vaccines are continually monitored by the MHRA. This ensures that the benefits in protecting people against Covid-19 continue to far outweigh any potential side-effects.
This Moderna vaccine requires two doses to be given and it is recommended to administer the second dose 28 days after the first. It is approved for use in people 18 years and over, and it can be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women following a discussion with their healthcare provider on the benefits and risks. It can be stored at -20°C for up to six months.
The European Medicines Agency has already approved the Moderna vaccine, making it the second Covid-19 vaccine to be cleared for general use across the EU.
The Moderna vaccine will be deployed through similar methods in the UK, which includes:
hospital hubs for NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated
local community services with local teams and GPs already signing up to take part in the programme
vaccination centres across the country, ensuring people can access a vaccine regardless of where they live