A FDNY EMS Fire Brigade Bureau employee receives a COVID-19 Moderna vaccine amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, New York, United States. December 23, 2020.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
LONDON – The UK Medicines Agency approved ModernaCoronavirus vaccine on Friday for an emergency in the country.
It comes as the UK is battling a more contagious strain of the virus, which has resulted in an alarming spike in infections and deaths across the country and resulted in a third lockdown.
In a press release, the country’s Ministry of Health announced that the Moderna vaccine met “strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality” set by the drug and health product regulator.
It added that the UK had ordered an additional 10 million doses of the vaccine for a grand total of 17 million. They are expected to be available from spring.
The MHRA approved the Moderna vaccine after months of rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people. It added that it was 94% effective in preventing Covid, even in the elderly.
“This is more great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this terrible disease,” Health and Welfare Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement.
On December 8, Great Britain became one of the first countries in the world start vaccinating its population against the coronavirus. The country approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on December 2nd and Shot by Oxford-AstraZeneca on December 30th.
It has now vaccinated around 1.5 million people, and Hancock said Friday’s approval will allow the country to accelerate its vaccination program from spring onwards.
The vaccines will be given to priority groups first, including those in nursing homes, people over 80, and health and social workers on the front lines.
In total, the UK has received 367 million doses from seven different vaccine candidates, including 40 million from Pfizer-BioNTech and 100 million from Oxford-AstraZeneca.
The UK has reported nearly 2.9 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 78,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Thursday, it reported the second highest number of daily Covid deaths at 1,162. It was the eleventh time the UK has recorded more than 1,000 deaths a day.
Meanwhile it is The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared a “major incident” in London on Friday, as hospitals are almost overwhelmed. Over 800 patients are admitted to hospitals in the capital every day, officials warned at a press conference.