The Moderna vaccine, which was created and is produced in the USA, follows on the heels of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, which have been used to vaccinate more than seven million people across the UK so far. Early lab tests suggest the Moderna vaccine works against the new variants discovered in recent months.
Laboratory tests show Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine still works against the variant named 501.V2, which first emerged in South Africa, and B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the UK, the company said.
More studies are needed to confirm the results and the findings are yet to be peer-reviewed.
Newly identified strains of the virus have caused considerable alarm worldwide, with the UK variant, which emerged in London and Kent at the end of last year, estimated to be 30 to 70 percent more transmissible than previous strains.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the virus “another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease”, and added it will “boost our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring”.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “The highly effective Moderna vaccine is another impressive success for science and is another testament to the hard work of researchers and selfless clinical trial volunteers.
“This vaccine will save lives once doses become available, but it is crucial we all continue to follow the rules to protect each other until enough people have been protected.”
Currently, more than seven million people have been vaccinated since the programme began in December.
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The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now more than 350,000 per day.
London continues to have the lowest vaccination rate in all of England, and the highest had been in the Midlands.
The Government is currently aiming to have the priority groups offered their first dose by the middle of February.
Case rates have also dropped across the UK, and are now at the lowest rate since the middle of December.