Moderna vaccine being administered in the UK from mid-April
- UK’s first Moderna covid vaccine administered to a 24-year-old carer from Wales
- Is the Moderna coronavirus vaccine safe – what are the side effects?
- UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock insists that Britain will hit its July target to vaccinate all UK adults
- New modelling reveals that Britain will achieve herd immunity next week as COVID-19 hospitalisations and cases plunge
The UK’s first Moderna vaccine was administered today (April 8th 2021) to a 24-year-old carer from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, in Wales.
The third vaccine rollout is a pivotal moment for Britain and in meeting the UK government’s ambitious July target to inoculate the entire adult population.
According to official reports, Britain has secured 17 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, a sufficient amount of doses to vaccinate approximately 8.5 million.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has been offered to adults in Wales first, with 5,000 doses delivered to vaccination centres in the Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire regions.
Influenza specialist and England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the Moderna vaccine would be deployed in England from mid-April.
Professor Van-Tam also said that the UK’s vaccination programme is “full steam ahead” and that disruption expected over the next month will have a “negligible” impact on the existing timetable with the third vaccine in our artillery.
The Moderna vaccine rollout succeeds the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs, which were deployed across the nation in December and January, respectively.
How effective is the Moderna coronavirus vaccine?
According to US pharmaceutical biotechnological giant Moderna, its vaccine is 100% effective in preventing severe illness and death and offers up to 94.1% protection against symptomatic COVID-19.
Much like the AstraZeneca jab, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at -20°C – achievable in a standard pharmaceutical fridge – for around 30 days before use, meaning it poses fewer logistical challenges than the Pfizer vaccine.
Is the Moderna vaccine safe?
Moderna’s trial results, which involved more than 30,000 people of varying ages, ethnicities, and health conditions, revealed that participants had little reaction to the vaccine.
While scientists identified side effects, there were no serious safety concerns. The pharmaceutical firm noted that the jab is also effective against the Kent strain, South Africa mutations and California variant.
Some of the common side effects identified include swelling or pain at the injection site, headaches, nausea, vomiting, fever, rash and fatigue. However, Moderna noted that one in every 1000 people could experience rare side effects, including Bell’s palsy (facial drooping) and swelling of the face may occur in people who have had cosmetic facial injections.
Nonetheless, UK health officials are pleased about rolling out the first doses of the Moderna vaccine after expecting a lack of supply this month due to delivery issues with an AstraZeneca plant in India.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also said that it was considering giving people under-30 people a choice of vaccines after identifying a possible link between “extremely rare” blood clots and the AstraZeneca shot.
With an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab now available, medical officials don’t need to be as concerned over any disruption to the country’s vaccination programme as Britain will have enough vaccines to inoculate all under-30s.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also insisted that the UK is on track to achieve its July target. He went on to say that the MHRA’s decision to offer people a choice over which jab to receive should increase confidence in Britain’s “world-class” safety regulations.
Mr Hancock continued to encourage people to get the Oxford vaccine, stating that the risk of developing the rare side effect at four in every million people is the same as being killed on a long-haul flight.
UK’s vaccination rollout is ‘full steam ahead’ despite blood clot fears
On Wednesday, the MHRA published new advice concerning a possible link between rare blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Despite data showing a slightly higher risk of the incident occurring in younger adult age groups, the UK regulator urged the world to continue receiving the AstraZeneca jab as the “benefits outweigh any associated risks.”
Furthermore, Mr Hancock said that approximately 1.6 million under-30s had received their first coronavirus vaccines. There’s also been no evidence of clotting following the second jab, so younger age groups should continue to take it with confidence.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also commented and thanked the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company for working tirelessly to develop a jab that protects against the notorious coronavirus.
The Prime Minister told a press conference that “regulators have said, this vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives. With that in mind, the vast majority of people should continue to take it when offered.”
He went on to say that under-30s will now be offered alternatives to improve public confidence.
Chairman of the Committee on Human Medicines Sir Munir Pirmohamed also commented: “I hope from the approach we’re taking that people can have confidence in getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. We know that it’s safe, effective and has played a major role in bringing the pandemic under control in this country and paving a path towards normality for us.”
Matt Hancock went a step further and warned young people reluctant to receive the vaccine of the “debilitating” impact long COVID can have and the risks to more vulnerable members of the community.
After commending the nation for the “amazing level of take-up” on the jab, he said that the “under-30s are at high risk of suffering consequences stemming from long COVID”
He also said that the UK is also lined up to receive another three vaccines this year – the Novavax, Valneva, and Johnson and Johnson jabs, which will hopefully be available this summer.
The rollout of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has already boosted optimism over the UK’s recovery outlook, and the FTSE 100 is now performing better as a result.
London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index rallied to a fresh one-year high less than half an hour after opening and remains on the front foot in midday trade, up by 26.95 points or 0.39% at 6,912.27.
Stronger-than-expected UK construction data and reports that Britain will achieve herd immunity by next week has also driven the index higher on Thursday.
UK will achieve herd immunity by mid-April
According to new modelling by University College London (UCL), Britain will achieve herd immunity from the novel coronavirus by April 12th , courtesy of the country’s rapid vaccine rollout.
UCL modelling shows that 73.4% of Brits will have protection against the virus which is also the target date for when the next round of lockdown restrictions are eased under UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap.
UCL’s results are in stark contrast to modelling released by Imperial College London, which released modelling showing that just 34% of people will be protected against the virus by March-end.
However, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week showed that 54% of people in England had produced COVID antibodies in the week commencing March 8th. Since then, more than 7.1 million people have received their first vaccine doses.
Given that a further 100,000 people have tested positive between March 14th and April 1st, UCL believes that some people may have also developed some innate immunity.
UCL modelling also suggests that some Britons may be immune through T-cells which are not easily identified in COVID antibody testing.
However, the public research university’s modelling has increased pressure on the UK government to accelerate plans to reopen the economy.
It also comes after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to ban vaccine exports to the UK again.
EU comes under fire for threatening to block vaccine exports to the UK
Brussels has been criticised again for threats against the UK to withhold vaccine exports following the EU’s laggard start to its vaccination campaign.
As the UK enters another pivotal moment in its vaccination drive, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been accused of “prolonging” the pandemic’s end with threats against vaccine supplies.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) collaboration centre director told reporters that President von der Leyen’s approach risks “delaying” the end of the pandemic instead of turning the tide on the crisis.
Director of the WHO-backed Worldwide Influenza Centre, John McCauley, said: “Every day is a delay – people die every day. People are going to be dying because of a one day delay that they needn’t have done.”
It comes as Australian government sources told Reuters that Brussels had blocked a shipment of vaccine exports to Australia, which is likely to have a devastating impact on the country’s vaccination drive, which is already 83% behind schedule.
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