The UK has received 5 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna Inc after reporting positive trial results, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday, with earliest doses expected for delivery in the spring.
Interim data from a late-stage study showed that Moderna’s vaccine was 94.5% effective against COVID-19.
“We reached an initial agreement today for 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Hancock said at a news conference.
The UK had previously signed supply contracts for a total of 350 million vaccine doses from six different suppliers, including Pfizer Inc, whose vaccine was more than 90% effective, and 100 million doses from an AstraZeneca / Oxford candidate, which are expected to be reported late. Stage results in the coming weeks.
Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government had given priority to agreements with vaccine developers who could deliver early supplies to Britain and advance manufacturing supply chains.
When asked if he regretted not being able to buy more of the Moderna vaccine, Hancock said the UK expects to have other vaccines sooner.
“The Moderna vaccine won’t go live until the spring,” said Hancock. “I’m just delighted that we have these early vaccines that will be available early, and we already have orders from those in.”
The UK expects to receive the Pfizer vaccine before the Moderna shot is available, as well as the AstraZeneca candidate if it proves effective.
Jonathan Van Tam, assistant medical director, said data from late-stage studies of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine had not been verified so it was still unknown whether it was working.
But he added that the trial results of both Pfizer and partner BioNTech vaccines and Moderna for other candidates targeting the coronavirus spike protein were good.
“This really shows us that the spike protein is a perfectly plausible and effective target for vaccines it is supposed to work against,” said Van Tam.
“We feel happier places than we do. But do we know the dates (Oxford / AstraZeneca)? No, we don’t.”