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UK approves Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3 min read

WATCH: UK regulator approves third Covid vaccine

UK regulators have approved Moderna’s (MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine for use, making it the third jab to be rubber stamped by Britain.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Friday said it had deemed Moderna’s vaccine safe for use in adults over 18. The approval follows a “thorough and rigorous assessment” of “safety, quality and effectiveness,” the agency said.

“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,” MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said in a statement. “I want to echo that our goal is always to put the protection of the public first.”

Nursing professor Pattie Troyan gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at drive through testing site in Doraville, Georgia, US. Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Nursing professor Pattie Troyan gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at drive through testing site in Doraville, Georgia, US. Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

The vaccine is the third to be approved for use in the UK, after Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) jointly developed vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine.

“Today’s approval brings more encouraging news to the public and the healthcare sector,” Dr Raine 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.”

Moderna’s shares were trading 1.2% higher in the pre-market on Friday following the announcement.

Moderna's five day stock chart. Shares rose on 7 January when the EU approved the vaccine. Graph: Yahoo Finance
Moderna's five day stock chart. Shares spiked on 7 January when the EU approved the vaccine. Graph: Yahoo Finance

READ MORE: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 'effective' against new COVID-19 strains

Moderna’s vaccine was shown to be 94% effective against COVID-19 in trials. The UK government has already ordered 17 million doses of the vaccine. In November, the government said 7 million doses would be ready for deployment as early as Spring 2021. Dr Raine said the MHRA would continue to monitor the Moderna vaccine after rollout began.

1.5 million people have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the UK and the government has set a target of 15 million vaccinations for the countries most vulnerable people by the middle of next month.

Earlier this week, the EU approved Moderna’s mRNA-1273 drug for use in adults. The vaccine has already been approved in the US.

Moderna’s vaccine works by injecting a small amount of genetic code from COVID-19 into a patient, which triggers an immune response. Like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Moderna’s treatment requires two injections spaced 28 days apart.

MRNA-1273 is easier to transport and store than Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine because it does not require storage at very cold temperatures. The vaccine can be stored at -20C — the temperature of most fridges — for up to six months and remains stable at room temperature for around 12 hours.

WATCH: Moderna vaccine may protect for several years