The UK started to implement Moderna Inc. vaccinates Wednesday, beefing up Britain’s Covid-19 immunization program amid concerns over AstraZeneca Plc injection and a dose deficit this month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Moderna vaccine would be offered first in West Wales. It is the third approved vaccine to be offered in Britain, alongside injections from AstraZeneca and its partners. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and its release is approximately 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 tried to reassure people about the Astra vaccine amid continuing concerns in Europe about possible side effects.
It was later learned that children’s vaccines in a vaccine study developed by Astra and the University of Oxford have been detained while the UK drug regulator investigates rare cases of blood clots in adults. No safety concerns have emerged in the children’s trial, Oxford said.
“So far there is no evidence of causal links in the very, very rare occasions that blood clots have been reported,” Small Business Minister Paul Scully told Sky News on Wednesday. “The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe; it has saved thousands of lives. “
The government has insisted it is on track to meet its goal of vaccinating all adults by the end of July, despite a reduction in doses in April and a potentially slower-than-expected pace in the coming months. “From what I can see, everything points to staying on target,” Scully said.
Vaccination centers and pharmacies face a “Significant reduction” in supply during April, NHS England warned last month, meaning older people waiting for a second dose will have priority over younger people getting their first injection.
The Cabinet Office now estimates the rate of release in England at an average of 2.7 million doses per week through the end of July, “considerably slower” than a previous forecast of 3.2 million per week, according to a document from Scientific modeling of a government advisory committee released Monday.
Johnson’s official spokesman, Jamie Davies, said the government “never discussed details about supplies and deliveries” of vaccines.
“There will be a slight reduction in April, but the key to remember is that that does not mean that we are not on track to deliver on our promises,” Davies told reporters on Tuesday. The UK remains “on track” to offer a first dose to everyone over 50 by April 15 and to all adults by the end of July, he said.
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Moderna shot’s UK launch is earlier than expected. Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC on Tuesday that it would happen “around the third week of April.”
So far, three in five adults in the UK have been vaccinated, 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 received a second dose.
During a visit to an Astra manufacturing plant in Macclesfield, North West England, Johnson urged people to listen to the medicines and Health care Products Regulatory Agency, the UK drug control body.
“His advice to people is to go ahead, get your jab, get your second jab,” he said.
– With the assistance of Kitty Donaldson
(Add a comment from the minister on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the sixth paragraph.)