First UK doses of Moderna vaccine to be administered today in Wales

7 April 2021, 00:00 | Updated: 13 April 2021, 05:22

The Moderna vaccine is set to be given to patients in Wales from Wednesday
The Moderna vaccine is set to be given to patients in Wales from Wednesday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The first UK doses of the Moderna vaccine will start being administered in Wales today, the Welsh Government has said.

Moderna's drug is the third coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out in Britain after being approved by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 8 January.

Investigations continue into a potential association between the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and a rare form of blood clot.

A trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in children has been paused while regulators investigate reports of a rare form of blood clot among adults.

The University of Oxford said no safety concerns have arisen from the children's trial and Sage adviser Professor Calum Semple said the decision to pause had been made out of "exceptional caution", as he urged people to continue accepting Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

Assessments are under way into a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), occurring together with low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia) following vaccination in adults.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are expected to announce findings of their assessments on Wednesday or Thursday.

Patients at West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen will be the first to receive the Moderna jab today, Welsh ministers confirmed.

They said 5,000 doses were sent to vaccination centres in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area on Tuesday.

Britain has purchased 17 million doses of the Moderna drug. It will be administered in two doses, therefore this batch will be enough for 8.5 million people.

The vaccine's phase three results suggest its efficacy against Covid-19 is 94.1 per cent, and efficacy against severe cases of the virus is 100 per cent.

It will be rolled out alongside the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs.

Read more: Moderna vaccine becomes third Covid jab approved for use in UK

Read more: Moderna says its jab 'works against UK and South Africa variants'

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "delighted we can start the UK rollout of the Moderna vaccine in west Wales today".

He added: "The UK Government has secured vaccines on behalf of the entire nation and the vaccination programme has shown our country working together at its best.

"Three out of every five people across the whole United Kingdom have received at least one dose, and today we start with the third approved vaccine. Wherever you live, when you get the call, get the jab."

Wales Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the rollout is "another key milestone in our fight" against coronavirus.

He said: "A third vaccine for use in Wales significantly adds to our defences in the face of coronavirus and will help to protect our most vulnerable.

"Every vaccine given to someone in Wales is a small victory against the virus and we would encourage everyone to go for their vaccine when invited."

Read more: Government signs deal for 5 million doses of Moderna Covid vaccine

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Ros Jervis, director of public health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: "We're delighted to be able to use the Moderna vaccine for deployment across west Wales.

"We will be using this new vaccine, alongside Oxford-AstraZeneca, to continue the vaccine rollout to our communities in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

"We are incredibly lucky to have a third vaccine in Wales, with a long shelf life and the ability to be easily transported, to help deliver the vaccination programme to small clinics across our rural communities."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first batch of Moderna vaccines had arrived in the country on Monday.

Scotland is due to receive more than a million of the doses ordered by the UK and Ms Sturgeon said they have already been factored into planning for the vaccination programme. She added that they will be delivered over the coming months.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the Moderna vaccine will be rolled out in England "as soon as possible this month".

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Tuesday morning that it would be deployed "around the third week of April".

It has not been confirmed when the rollout of the Moderna drug will begin in Northern Ireland.