The UK has secured 2 million more doses of the Moderna (MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which could be rolled out as early as the spring, the government said on Sunday.
This is on top of the 5 million doses it already put its name down for two weeks ago, and is subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The company said its experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing the effects of the virus, based on interim data.
The government statement said Britain now has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from seven developers.
The deal comes hot on the heels of the news that Britain is on its way to becoming the first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, after the government reached out to the UK regulator on Friday, asking it to review the Astrazeneca-Oxford University (AZN.L) vaccine.
The MHRA confirmed it had received a letter from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Ordinarily, vaccines are authorised by the European Medicines Agency until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, but MHRA has the power to temporarily authorise in case of urgent public need.
The UK placed orders for 100 million doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine. This is enough to vaccinate most of the population, with rollout expected in the coming weeks if the jab is approved by the MHRA. Interim data suggests the vaccine provides 70% protection, but researchers say the figure may be as high as 90% by tweaking the dose.
It also ordered 40 million doses of the two-shot product developed by US drugmaker Pfizer (PFE) and the German biotech firm BioNTech (BNTX), which preliminary data found to be 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 in over 65-year-olds.
The new Moderna order comes a day after prime minister Boris Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi, a junior business minister, to be minister responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.
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