Moderna vaccine in the UK: What we know about Britain’s third jab

The Moderna coronavirus vaccine is the third jab to be rolled out in the UK.

It will be administered to people in Wales from Wednesday.

It follows the rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which began in December and January respectively.

Here’s what we know about the Moderna vaccine.

How effective is it against coronavirus?

The phase three results suggested vaccine efficacy against the disease was 94.1 per cent, and vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 100 per cent.

More than 30,000 people in the US took part in the trial, from a wide range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds.

Two doses were given 28 days apart so researchers could evaluate safety and any reaction to the vaccine.

The analysis was based on 196 cases, of which 185 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 11 cases observed in the active vaccine group.

Moderna also released data relating to severe cases.

All 30 severe cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the group which had received the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273.

Who developed the vaccine?

Moderna is a US pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The vaccine received funding from two US federal agencies – the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Dolly Parton is credited with helping fund the jab after donating one million dollars (about £716,000) to Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee, which participated in the research.

The singer broadcast herself receiving the jab on social media, adapting one of her most famous hits for the occasion.

To the tune of Jolene, Parton sang: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate. Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.”

How many doses of Moderna does the UK have?

The Government has bought 17 million doses – enough to vaccinate about 8.5 million people.

Who got the first UK vaccine? 

An unpaid carer has become the first Briton in the UK to receive the Moderna vaccine. Elle Taylor, from Ammanford, got the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.

The 24-year-old works at a further education college in Llanelli as well as caring for her 82-year-old grandmother.

She received the jab from staff nurse Laura French at the hospital’s outpatients department.

Elle Taylor, 24, an unpaid carer from Ammanford, receives an injection of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine


Elle Taylor, 24, an unpaid carer from Ammanford, receives an injection of the Moderna coronavirus disease vaccine


Credit: Reuters

Speaking afterwards, Miss Taylor said: “I’m very excited and very happy. I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely.

“My grandmother has had her first dose and she is going for her second dose on Saturday.”

She said she was aware of concerns about patients receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine developing blood clots but was not worried.

“I had heard but it doesn’t concern me too much, and I guess if it happens, it happens and I am in the right care if I need it, and I feel happy that I’ve tried the new one,” she said.

Asked how she felt to be a trailblazer for millions of other people, Miss Taylor said: “I feel thrilled and really happy and honoured, and I just hope it goes well for everybody.”

How does the vaccine work?

The Moderna jab is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine.

Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code.

An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body, where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.

These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.

No actual virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine.

This means the rate at which the vaccine can be produced is accelerated.

Is the vaccine safe?

Moderna said the vaccine was generally well tolerated, with no serious safety concerns identified.

Severe events after the first dose included injection-site pain, and after the second dose included fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), headache, other pain and redness at the injection site.

But these were generally shortlived.

Is the Moderna vaccine effective against variants?

In late January, the company behind the vaccine said it was effective against both the strain first detected in south east England and the mutation which first emerged in South Africa.

Moderna said laboratory tests found no significant impact on antibodies against the UK variant relative to prior variants.

While there was a six-fold reduction in neutralising antibodies produced against the South African variant, the levels remained above those that are expected to be protective, Moderna said.

What stage is the Moderna rollout at in each of the four UK nations?

People in Wales will get first doses of the vaccine from Wednesday, at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.

The rollout will begin in England “as soon as possible this month”, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first batch of Moderna vaccines had arrived in the country on Monday and will be delivered over the coming months.

It has not been confirmed when the rollout of Moderna will begin in Northern Ireland.

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