The Covid vaccine developed by Moderna has become the third jab to be rolled out in the UK, with inoculations starting in Wales on Wednesday. Britain faces an acute shortage of shots as India and the EU tighten export controls.
The first Moderna jabs will be administered at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen on Wednesday morning, with 5,000 doses delivered to other vaccination centres in Wales. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged citizens to “please get your jab as soon as you are contacted.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was delighted that the vaccine was being rolled out. “Three out of every five people across the whole United Kingdom have received at least one dose, and today we start with the third approved vaccine. Wherever you live, when you get the call, get the jab,” he tweeted.
The vaccine becomes the third to be rolled out as part of the British vaccination campaign, after those produced by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. On Tuesday, the vaccine deployment minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said the Moderna vaccine would not be deployed until the third week of April, with higher volumes not expected until May.
Scotland also received its first batch of Moderna jabs on Monday, but rollout is yet to start.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the US-developed jab back in January. It has since been widely used around the world, including in the US and EU. Trial data suggest the two-dose vaccine is 94.1% effective against Covid-19, although efficacy will differ against new variants.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as the UK faces a severe shortage of vaccines, which may impact Britain’s ability to continue its inoculation programme. While the daily second dose count has increased significantly, fewer people are receiving their first jab. The EU’s decision to introduce vaccine export controls has been compounded by the total ban on vaccine exports by the world’s largest manufacturer, India.
London has also signalled its intention to roll out the Novavax vaccine as soon as possible, with Novavax’s vaccine trial chief, Professor Paul Heath, suggesting the shot could be given regulatory approval by the end of April.
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