Downing Street Has Defended Its Failure To Pre-Order A New '94.5% Effective’ Covid-19 Vaccine And Said The UK Could Get It By Spring
The Moderna version of the vaccine is not one of the six versions the UK has placed pre-orders of (PA)
Downing Street has confirmed the government is in “advanced discussions” to get hold of a new vaccine against coronavirus which is said to be 94.5% effective.
And it defended the decision not to pre-order any doses of the Moderna version, saying its vaccine taskforce has prioritised those which “can provide early supply to the UK and have advanced manufacturing supply chains in place”.
Interim data from the US suggests the new jab is highly effective in preventing people getting ill with Covid-19 and may work across all age groups, including the elderly.
And despite being a similar type of vaccine to the Pfizer/Biontech version which is due to be rolled out across Britain in weeks, which must be transported and stored at -70C until just before it is used, Moderna’s can be stored at normal fridge temperatures for up to a month.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said of today’s findings: "The news from Moderna represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine.
"Advanced discussions are underway with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
“Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain, which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest.”
He added: "We have already secured early access to 350 million vaccine doses through agreements for six different vaccines, giving the UK the most likely chance of securing a safe and effective vaccine at the quickest speed.
"What we have done is prioritise agreements with vaccine developers who offer different types of vaccines, can provide early supply to the UK and have advanced manufacturing supply chains in place."
Meanwhile Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, told BBC Radio 4's World at One that while his firm’s vaccine was not one of the six pre-ordered by the UK, he hoped they would be able to supply “substantial quantities” to this country.
He said: “But as your government disclosed and as we’ve said, we’re in advanced discussions and looking forward to being able to supply substantial quantities of the vaccine to the UK government for use in the United Kingdom.”
On whether this could be done quickly, he replied: “It depends a little on concluding those negotiations. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
“But we do have the ability to supply in the early part of next year and certainly we hope substantial quantities by the spring.”
The UK’s 350 million pre-orders of vaccine includes 40 million doses of the Pfizer/Biontech version, along with 100 million of one being developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which is expected to report the results of its third phase clinical trials soon.