The UK. will begin rolling out the MRNA US Equity”/>Moderna Inc. vaccine on Wednesday, bolstering Britain’s Covid-19 immunization program amid concerns over ((AZN)) LN Equity”/>AstraZeneca Plc’s shot and a shortfall of doses this month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Moderna shot would first be offered in west Wales. It is the third approved vaccine to be offered in Britain, alongside shots from AstraZeneca and partners PFE US Equity”/>Pfizer Inc. and ((BNTX)) US Equity”/>BioNTech SE, and its rollout is around two weeks earlier than expected.
The UK. has ordered 17 million doses of Moderna’s two-shot vaccine, enough for 8.5 million people.
The success of the vaccine program is crucial to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ambition to fully reopen the UK. economy on June 21. On Tuesday, he sought to reassure people over the Astra vaccine amid ongoing concerns in Europe over possible side effects.
It later emerged that vaccinations of children in a study of the shot developed by Astra and Oxford University have been paused while the UK.’s drug regulator investigates rare cases of blood clots in adults. No safety issues have arisen in the children’s trial, Oxford said.
“The UK. government has secured vaccines on behalf of the entire nation and the vaccination program has shown our country working together at its best,” Hancock said in an emailed statement. “Wherever you live, when you get the call, get the jab.”
The government has insisted it is on track to meet its target to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, despite a reduction in doses this April and a potentially slower pace than expected in the months ahead.
Vaccination centers and pharmacies are facing a “significant reduction” in supply during April, NHS England warned last month — meaning that older people waiting for second doses will be prioritized over younger people getting their first shot.
The pace of the rollout across England is now estimated by the Cabinet Office at an average of 2.7 million doses a week until the end of July — “considerably slower” than a previous forecast of 3.2 million a week, according to a modeling paper from scientists on a government advisory committee published Monday.
Johnson’s official spokesman Jamie Davies said the government “never talked about details around supplies and deliveries” of vaccines.
“There will be a slight reduction in April, but the key thing to remember is that that doesn’t mean that we’re not on track to meet our pledges,” Davies told reporters Tuesday. The UK. remains “on track” to offer a first dose to all over-50s by April 15, and to all adults by the end of July, he said.
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The rollout of the Moderna shot in the UK. is earlier than expected. Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC on Tuesday it would happen “around the third week of April”.
Three in five adults in the UK. have been vaccinated so far, Hancock said on Twitter. The most recent government data shows that more than 31.6 million people have received a first dose, and 5.5 million have had a second dose.
Speaking on a visit to an Astra manufacturing plant in Macclesfield, northwest England, Johnson urged people to listen to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the UK.’s drug watchdog.
“Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab,” he said.