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The UK Has Secured 5 Million Doses Of A Coronavirus Vaccine That Is Reportedly 95% Effective

The UK Has Secured 5 Million Doses Of A Coronavirus Vaccine That Is Reportedly 95% Effective
3 min read

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the UK has secured 5 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, which trials suggest is 95% effective.

Around 350 million vaccine doses from various suppliers have been secured by the government so far, including 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is reportedly 90% effective against the disease. 

Mr Hancock said the latest acquisition from Moderna was an “encouraging step forward”, but he stressed that there was “limited” safety data on the treatment, and that doses would not be available until spring 2021.

“Across diagnostics and vaccines, great advances in medical science are coming to the rescue,” he said at a Downing Street press conference. 

“And while there is much uncertainty, we can see the candle of hope and we must do all that we can to nurture its flame. 

“But we're not there yet. Until the science can make us safe. We must remain vigilant and keep following the rules that we know can keep this virus under control.”

First doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected to be available to the public before the end of this year, with care home residents and workers at the top of the priority list.

Next in line are those aged 80 and above and workers across the health and social care sectors, with remaining groups split into age bands of five years prioritised by risk level.

But, asked by a member of the public if clinically extremely vulnerable adults in younger age groups would get and prioritisation, deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said this guidance was “interim”.

“The reason for that is that we do not yet have the data on the vaccines that will be available to us, and authorised by the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency].” 

“And we can't make those final decisions until it is understood if the vaccines are suitable for all groups. I am hoping so, but that is a decision that has to be made in the future.

“It is very clear that the clinically extremely vulnerable are on the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] priority list. And many of them will already be subsumed within the priority order on the provisional list by virtue of age, or by virtue of having chronic underlying conditions, right down to the age of 18. 

“So from that perspective, I do expect there to be coverage of the clinically extremely vulnerable.”

Elsewhere in the conference, Sage adviser Susan Hopkins dampened hopes that restrictions may be significantly relaxed at the end of the current lockdown.

She suggests that Tier 1, the lowest level of localised restrictions under which households can socialise both indoors and outdoors, may have to be “strengthened” during the winter. 

“We recognised that the tiering of the country has had a different effect in each area,” she said.

“Tier 3, and especially Tier 3+ in the north has had an effect in reducing the numbers of cases in the north west, and we can see in the north west declining number of cases now.”

“Tier 2 seem to hold in some areas and not so well in others. And so really it depends on how fast transmissions occur and how well the individuals in the population are taking that advice in. 

“We see very little effect from Tier 1, and I think when we look at what tier is maybe there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccines are available for everyone.”

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