UK secures 5 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read

WATCH: UK orders 5 million doses of Moderna vaccine

The UK government on Monday said it had ordered 5 million doses of Moderna’s (MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine. The order confirmation came hours after the US-based biotech company reported that its vaccine candidate had shown almost 95% efficacy in its large Phase 3 trial in the US.

British health minister Matt Hancock said at a news conference on Monday that the government is expecting the first delivery of Moderna’s vaccine in spring next year.

“The Moderna vaccine doesn’t come on stream until the spring,” Hancock said. “I’m just really pleased that we’ve got those early vaccines that will be available early, and we’ve already got the orders of those in.”

Five million doses is a relatively small order compared with the amounts that the UK government has ordered from other pharma firms with vaccines in development.

READ MORE: Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine nearly 95% effective in trials

It is taking 100 million doses of the vaccine candidate under development from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca (AZN.L), as well as 10 million from Germany’s BioNTech (BNTX) and its US partner Pfizer (PFE)

The UK also has an agreement with US-based Novavax (NVAX) for 60 million doses and with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) for 30 million doses.

Moderna is one of three firms working on messenger RNA vaccines. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Moderna is one of three firms working on messenger RNA vaccines. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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BioNTech and Pfizer announced one week ago that their vaccine was around 90% effective in Phase 3 trials, based on preliminary data.

Both Moderna and BioNTech are working on messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Unlike traditional vaccines, which work by putting weak or inactivated doses of a virus or bacteria into the body to make the immune systems produce antibodies, mRNA vaccines transmit a genetic code to cells telling them to produce a protein, which in turn activates the immune system.

READ MORE: BioNTech founder on COVID-19 vaccine trial results: 'An important step for the world'

Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at between 2C and 8C, which is the temperature of normal fridges, making it easier to store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be kept mostly at -70C, until it is ready to be used.

Moderna’s stock closed up over 9% in the US on Monday.