Britain has started to administer the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) weeks ahead of schedule to maintain the momentum built up by its programme so far.
The UK Government has warned that its roll-out might slow this month due to manufacturing problems at AstraZeneca, which is producing a vaccine developed by Oxford University.
Inoculations over the past two days have been the lowest since the programme got underway in January due partly to problems with Astra’s vaccine supplies from India.
Moderna’s vaccine is now available alongside AstraZeneca and a similar mRNA vaccine manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We have ordered 17 million doses that will be going into arms across the UK in the coming weeks.”
Unlike the Pfizer jab, Moderna’s vaccine does not have to be stored in ultra-low temperature freezers and, like Astra’s candidate, can be stored in the fridge.
Having been given today in Wales, the shot is expected to be used in the rest of the United Kingdom by the middle of April.
Johnson has promised everyone in the UK will get their first jab by the end of July but concerns over a potential blood clot risk from the AstraZeneca vaccine have brought that timeline into question.
Regulators in both the UK and Europe are scheduled to give updates on research they have carried out into the blood clot issue today (7 April).
AstraZeneca shares eased 0.5% to 7,149p while Moderna dropped 1.9% to US$131.04.