Moderna vaccine: Everything we know so far

7 April 2021, 05:54 | Updated: 7 April 2021, 10:51

The Moderna vaccine will be given to patients in the UK from today
The Moderna vaccine will be given to patients in the UK from today. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Moderna vaccine is the third to be rolled out in the UK - but how does it work and where is it developed? Here's the latest on the Covid-19 jab.

The Moderna coronavirus vaccine is the third jab to be rolled out in the UK following the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which began in December and January respectively.

With the other Covid-19 vaccines currently under the spotlight, there are plenty of questions around the new jab including it's effectiveness, where it's developed and exactly how it works.

Related article: How will Covid vaccine passports really work in the UK?

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Here's what we know about the Moderna vaccine including how safe it has been deemed:

The Moderna vaccine in the UK follows the rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines
The Moderna vaccine in the UK follows the rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Picture: PA

How effective is the Moderna vaccine against coronavirus?

The phase three results suggested vaccine efficacy against the disease was 94.1%, and vaccine efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 100%.

More than 30,000 people in the US took part in the trial, from a wide range of age groups and ethnic backgrounds.

Two doses were given 28 days apart so researchers could evaluate safety and any reaction to the vaccine.

The analysis was based on 196 cases, of which 185 cases of Covid-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 11 cases observed in the active vaccine group.

Moderna also released data relating to severe cases.

All 30 severe cases occurred in the placebo group and none in the group which had received the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273.

Where is the Moderna vaccine made?

The vaccine was developed in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is now being produced in Norwood. The aim is to have further sites set up across the globe including one in Switzerland.

How many doses of Moderna does the UK have?

The Government has bought 17 million doses - enough to vaccinate about 8.5 million people.

How does the Moderna vaccine work?

The Moderna jab is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine.

Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus's genetic code.

An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body, where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens.

These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus.

No actual virus is needed to create an mRNA vaccine.

This means the rate at which the vaccine can be produced is accelerated.

Is the Moderna vaccine safe?

Moderna said the vaccine was generally well tolerated, with no serious safety concerns identified.

Severe events after the first dose included injection-site pain, and after the second dose included fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), headache, other pain and redness at the injection site.

But these were generally shortlived.

Is the Moderna vaccine effective against variants?

In late January, the company behind the vaccine said it was effective against both the strain first detected in south east England and the mutation which first emerged in South Africa.

Moderna said laboratory tests found no significant impact on antibodies against the UK variant relative to prior variants.

While there was a six-fold reduction in neutralising antibodies produced against the South African variant, the levels remained above those that are expected to be protective, Moderna said.

What stage is the Moderna rollout at in each of the four UK nations?

People in Wales will get first doses of the vaccine from Wednesday, at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen.

The rollout will begin in England "as soon as possible this month", a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first batch of Moderna vaccines had arrived in the country on Monday and will be delivered over the coming months.

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