How effective is the Moderna Covid vaccine?

A COVID vaccine that is 94 per cent effective is now being rolled out in the UK.

The Moderna Covid jab was the third vaccine to be approved in the UK in a boost to efforts to beat the pandemic and the first doses will be administered today in West Wales.

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Seven million doses of the US-based company's vaccine had already been ordered but the Government previously announced an additional 10 million have been purchased.

The government said it has secured 350 million doses of Covid vaccines from various pharmaceutical giants.

The first doses of the Moderna jab will be administered today in West Wales.

Trials on more than 30,000 people found that only five given the Moderna jab developed Covid – none with severe symptoms.

The UK has secured 40 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine – enough for a third of the population.

Moderna's jab is easier to distribute than Pfizer's, which has to be stored at -70C, as it has been shown to last up to 30 days in household fridges.

So far in the UK over 31.6 million Brits have received a first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Pfizer/BioNTech jab with over 5.4 million having had a second.

The Moderna jab will bolster the UK's vaccine efforts – but how effective is it?

How effective is the jab?

Moderna's jab was trialled on more than 30,000 people.

It was also trialled on those most at risk of severe illness from Covid, including the elderly and ethnic minority groups – offering a boost that the vulnerable will be protected from the deadly bug.

Analysis from the Phase 3 study of the jab revealed that the vaccine can prevent Covid-19, including severe disease.

It stated that the jab was 94 per cent effective.

Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton, said when the Moderna jab arrives in the UK it will "help to ease any bottlenecks or delays in the administration programme".

He added: "The early administrations in other countries such as the USA have been successful with no significant issues raised in terms of safety.”


Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: "Having a third Covid-19 vaccine approved for supply following a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data is an important goal to have achieved and I am proud that the agency has helped to make this a reality.

“The progress we are now making for vaccines on the regulatory front, whilst not cutting any corners, is helping in our global fight against this disease and ultimately helping to save lives."

She added that once in use, all Covid-19 vaccines are continually monitored by the regulator.

"This ensures that the benefits in protecting people against Covid-19 continue to far outweigh any potential side-effects," she said.

Britain’s 350million Covid vaccine doses

THE government has ordered 350million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, with vaccination starting in early December.

This includes 40million doses of the promising Pfizer shot, which was revealed to be 90 per cent effect last week.

These are the other vaccines which the government has pre-ordered:

Oxford/AstraZeneca: 100million doses
A weakened virus that causes colds in chimpanzees, it has been shown to generate a strong immune response against Covid-19.

It has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans, making it safe for children, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.

Currently in phase-3 trials in the UK, USA, South Africa, Japan, Brazil and Kenya, more than 50,000 test patients have been given the vaccine. Early reviews have shown it to be safe.

A company in Australia has already started making millions of vials in the expectation that trials will be successful.

Novavax: 60million doses

Contains purified piece of the virus that causes Covid-19. When it is administered, the body recognises it as “foreign” and mounts a protective immune response.

It has been shown to generate more antibodies than in patients recovering from severe Covid-19 infections.

Currently in phase-3 clinical trials in the UK and USA.

GSK/Sanofi: 60million doses

Uses the same protein as one of Sanofi’s seasonal flu vaccines coupled with a booster.

In phase-1 clinical trials but early results have been positive.

Valneva: 60million doses
An inactivated whole virus vaccine designed to prompt the body into creating high levels of Covid-19 antibodies.

The government has invested in Valneva’s manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland, to create a major UK vaccine factory.

Currently in pre-trial research, with trials due to start in December.

Pfizer/BioNTech: 40million doses

Prevents Covid-19 infection by targeting the virus’s “spike protein”, effectively disabling it before it can cause any damage.

Tested on 40,000 patients, it is currently in phase-3 trials, but the first interim analysis has shown it is 90 per cent effective.

Janssen: 30million doses

Uses a modified common cold virus to act like a Trojan horse that can deploy the Covid-19 virus’s “spike protein” to human cells, causing the body to generate antibodies.

Phase-3 trials among 60,000 patients were recently halted temporarily after an unexplained illness in one volunteer. Trials have since resumed.

= 350million doses in total

When will the first doses be available?

The first doses are being administers in Wales today.

The US jab was always expected in the "spring" but yesterday Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi played down their imminent arrival.

He had said he expected doses to go into arms "around the third week of April", with "more volume" expected by May.

Ministers have warned that April will see a slow down of the inoculation against the dead virus, but the 500,000 batch of Moderna will help keep the numbers ticking over until more stocks of AstraZeneca and Pfizer arrive.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m delighted we can start the UK rollout of the Moderna vaccine in west Wales today.

“The UK government has secured vaccines on behalf of the entire nation and the vaccination programme has shown our country working together at its best.


“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.”

Its trial involved more than 30,000 people, half of whom received the vaccine and the other half received a placebo.

This is so that it can be tested on a wide range of people.

Moderna said it tested the jab on people of all ages and looked at groups between aged 18-55, 56 to 70 and then 71 and over.

It also stated that people from diverse communities had been part of the trial.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the Moderna vaccine will be available for free and the Government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK.

Like the other two vaccines, the Moderna vaccine will be deployed through hospital hubs for NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated, through local community services with local teams and GPs, and through vaccination centres across the country.

Who will get the jab first?

The government had previously stated that those who are most at risk of the virus would receive vaccines first.

This includes health workers and those who work in care homes, these are places where the virus is more prevalent.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.

The group previously published guidance on the Pfizer jab.

In this guidance it states that the priority would be:

  1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers
  2. All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
  3. Anyone 75 and over
  4. People aged 70 and over
  5. All those aged 65 and over
  6. High-risk adults under 65
  7. Moderate-risk adults under 65
  8. All those aged 60 and over
  9. All those 55 and over
  10. All those aged 50 and over
  11. The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined.

Side effects

Dr Zoltán Kis, Research Associate at the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Hub, Imperial College London said: "Once approved by the regulatory authorities, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine can be distributed substantially easier and at lower costs compared to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine."

This he said is due to the fact that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is stable at -20 degrees C, compared to the -70 degrees C of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine candidate.

Side effects from the vaccine were also reported to be few and far between, with just three per cent of people feeling pain where they had the injection.

The trial also found that just 10 per cent of people suffered with fatigue, muscle aches and flu like symptoms.

However since the jab has been administered in the US, some patients reported that they were suffering from a rash after having the jab.

Prof Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London said: "This seems to indicate that they got the dose about right with acceptable adverse events.

"These effects are what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response. "

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