A 24-year-old carer has become the first person in the UK to get the Moderna coronavirus vaccine – but England will have to wait another fortnight.
Elle Taylor, from Ammanford, received the jab at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen after Wales said it had offered a first dose to all over-50s.
‘I am very excited and very happy,’ she said today. ‘I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was ‘delighted’ the US-made jab was now being administered on British soil, and Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething added the drive was a ‘source of pride and hope for the future’.
But confusion has erupted over the roll-out of the jab – the third to be deployed in Britain, behind Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Number 10’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday downplayed expectations, insisting Moderna’s shot would only be used from the third week of April.
Nicola Sturgeon, however, revealed barely hours later that the first batch had arrived in Scotland, although she did not say when these would be used. But sources say it will be administered later this week.
Wales officially moved on to over-45s in its inoculation drive on Monday, after Northern Ireland also started offering jabs to this age group last week. Scotland and England are still mopping up older adults who have yet to be jabbed.
Britons will receive 100,000 doses this month, with deliveries expected to ‘significantly increase’ in May and June. The Government has ordered 17million jabs from the US-based company – enough for 8.5million people.
A Whitehall source told The Times hundreds of thousands of Moderna jabs have already arrived in Britain, and plans are being put in place for their distribution.
It comes as Britain’s medical regulator mulls over whether to suspend the AstraZeneca jab for under-30s, amid concern over very rare blood clots.
Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) member Dr Maggie Wearmouth last night opened the possibility of ‘slowing things down’ until the MHRA was sure the jab was completely safe.
And Oxford University halted jab trials in children last night, saying it would wait for the MHRA’s ruling on whether they were safe to continue.
More than 31million adults have now received their first dose, putting the Government on course to meet its target of vaccinating all over-50s by April 15.
Elle Taylor, 24, today became the first person to receive the Moderna jab in the UK. She said it would help her care for her grandmother ‘properly and safely’
The UK has bought 17 million doses of the Moderna jab – enough for 8.5 million people
More than 31million Britons have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine in the UK
What do we know about the Moderna Covid vaccine?
How effective is it 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.
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 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 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.
Asked how she felt to be a trailblazer for millions after getting the jab, Miss Taylor said: ‘I feel thrilled and really happy and honoured, and I just hope it goes well for everybody.
‘It was great, the nurses were lovely and it didn’t hurt.’
Miss Taylor also works at a further education college in Llanelli, near Swansea, and found out only yesterday that she would get the Moderna jab.
Carers were bumped up the jabs priority list by scientists to reduce the risk of them accidentally transmitting the virus to a vulnerable person.
Some 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were delivered to the local Hywel Dda University Health Board yesterday, with more expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
It is unclear how many were sent to Scotland, but ministers have revealed they are being distributed using the Barnett formula – which entitles the nation to a million Moderna doses.
Britain’s Health Secretary said the achievement was only possible thanks to the UK Government’s successful programme to secure vital vaccine supplies.
‘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,’ Mr Hancock said.
‘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 t
Mr Gething pointed to the jabs delivery as ‘another key milestone’ in the fight against Covid.
‘A third vaccine for use in Wales significantly adds to our defences in the face of Covid and will help to protect our most vulnerable,’ he said.
‘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.’
But there is mounting confusion over the roll-out of Moderna’s jab, after Mr Zahawi yesterday said doses would only be available by April 19.
His statement came barely hours before Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had received a delivery, although it did not reveal when these jabs would be rolled-out.
It is not clear whether Northern Ireland has received any doses of the Moderna vaccine.
There is mounting concern, however, that Moderna jabs are sitting in warehouses across the country instead of being used to protect Britons and save lives.
NHS England warned in a letter to GPs last month that its vaccine supplies would be ‘significantly constrained’ for four weeks from March 29.
It is thought this referred to reduced deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after India blocked the delivery of 5million doses.
The Department of Health said Moderna jabs would be rolled out ‘as soon as possible this month’, but did not provide a specific date.
More than 93 per cent of over-50s in England had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine by March 28, figures show, suggesting health authorities are nearing offering the jab to younger age groups in the nation.
It comes as a trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine in children was 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.
The UK’s regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – is also investigating reports but has not confirmed when it will present its findings.
Both the MHRA – which said it had identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events out of 18.1 million doses of the jab administered up to and including March 24 – and WHO have said that to date the benefits of the vaccine in preventing coronavirus outweigh any risks.
Dr Wearmouth, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), indicated that ‘perhaps slowing things down’ with the rollout ‘until we’re absolutely certain’ might be wise.
Speaking in a personal capacity, she told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The issue is about safety and public confidence. We don’t want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing.
‘The issue is about safety and public confidence,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to cover anything up that we feel that the public should be knowing. We’re not here to blindly follow targets or due dates. We will do what is necessary for the British public.’
WHICH VACCINES ARE BRITAIN USING? AND HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THEY?
Approved: December 2, 2020
Doses dished out: 10.8million*
Doses ordered: 40million
Phase 3 trials data
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms: 95%
- Efficacy against severe illness: 100%
Real world data:
- Efficacy at stopping transmission: 66%
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms (one dose): Between 57 and 61%
- Efficacy against severe illness: 80%
How it works: mRNA vaccine – Genetic material from coronavirus is injected to trick the immune system into making ‘spike’ proteins and learning how to attack them.
Approved: December 30, 2020
Doses dished out: 15.8million*
Doses ordered: 100million
Phase 3 trials data
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms (one dose): 70%
- Efficacy against severe illness (one dose): 100%
Real world data:
- Efficacy at stopping transmission: 70%
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms: Between 60 and 73%
- Efficacy against severe illness: 80%
How it works: Adenovirus vaccine – To make the vaccine, the common cold virus is genetically modified to trigger it to make the Covid spike protein — which the virus uses to invade cells.
When the vaccine is administered the patient’s immune system attacks the spike protein by building antibodies, priming it to fight off Covid before it leads to an infection.
Approved: January 8, 2021
Doses dished out: Zero
Doses ordered: 17million
Phase 3 trials data
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms: 94.1%
- Efficacy against severe illness: 100%
Real world data:
- Efficacy at stopping transmission: Not known
- Efficacy at blocking symptoms: 90%**
- Efficacy against severe illness: Not known
How it works: mRNA vaccine – both Moderna’s and Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines work in the same way.
* the latest data goes up to March 21
** data taken from a US study, joint with Pfizer. Other real world data comes from Public Health England in the UK
People are still being encouraged to have the AstraZeneca jab and yesterday Boris Johnson (pictured) said it was ‘very very important’ the public go for their inoculations
‘We’re not here to blindly follow targets or due dates. We will do what is necessary.’
Fellow JCVI member Professor Adam Finn said the situation must be ‘addressed urgently’.
Speaking in a personal capacity, he told BBC Newsnight: ‘It’s clear that everyone is taking these cases enormously seriously, we do need to get to the bottom of this.
When will the Moderna jab be rolled out across the home nations?
Jabs will be given out at West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen today with another five thousand doses of the vaccine sent to vaccination centres in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area on Tuesday.
Scotland’s 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, and 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 Moderna will begin in Northern Ireland.
About 100,000 Moderna jabs will be offered every week in April before increasing to 150,000 a week in May.
‘We are walking a tightrope here between the need for speed but also the need for clarity and scientific certainty about what’s going on and of course the public wants to know, so very important issues that need to be addressed urgently.’
Yesterday the Prime Minister, who has himself had the AstraZeneca vaccine, called on the nation to get their jab during a visit to the Anglo-Swedish plant in Macclesfield.
He said the ‘best thing’ people can do is ‘look at what the MHRA say’, adding: ‘Their advice to people is to keep going out there, get your jab, get your second jab.’
Sage adviser Professor Calum Semple echoed the PM’s clarion call and urged people to continue accepting the AstraZeneca jab.
He told Channel 4 News: ‘This has been done out of exceptional caution and the big story still is that for a middle-aged, slightly overweight man, such as myself, my risk of death is one in 13,000 – the risk of this rare clot, which might not even be associated with the vaccine, is probably one in a million.
‘So I’m still going to say it’s better to get the vaccine than not get the vaccine and we can pause and take time to carefully consider the value for children because they’re not at risk of death from Covid.’
He added: ‘If you’ve been called for the vaccine then you’re in an age group that is very likely to benefit from the vaccine. So the bottom line is if you’ve been called for the vaccine I would urge you to take the vaccine.’
Several European countries have limited the AstraZenca jab to older people or even suspended its use entirely following clotting in a tiny amount of cases.
One of the European drug regulator’s senior officials yesterday claimed there is now a ‘clear’ link between the jab and CVST — a brain blockage that can lead to a stroke.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said that CVST — a brain blockage that can lead to a stroke — was occurring more often than expected in younger people.
Mr Cavaleri admitted that the body was still baffled about how the jab may trigger the rare complication.
The risk of dying from Covid-19 is significantly higher than the rate of CSVT blood clots, which haven’t even been definitively linked to the vaccines (Based on fatality estimates from Cambridge University and CSVT occurrences in Germany)
Marco Cavaleri, vaccines head at the European Medicines Agency, said there is a ‘link’ between AstraZeneca jab and clots
EMA officials are already probing the link between the vaccine and CVST, which is more common in young women. Watchdog bosses are expected to make a formal announcement tomorrow.
Despite his comments, Mr Cavaleri’s agency has repeatedly insisted AstraZeneca’s jab is safe and the benefits outweigh any risks.
Last week it slapped down Germany for suspending its use in under-60s, arguing there was ‘no evidence’ to support age-based restrictions.
The roadmap out of lockdown in the four home nations: Where are they now, and what’s coming next?
Latest lockdown easing – From April 5 barbers and hairdressers allowed to reopen alongside garden centres and homeware stores.
What’s coming next? – From April 26, beer gardens and gyms will be allowed to reopen. From May 17, cinemas will open their doors again and four people from two households can meet indoors.
Infection/deaths – 219,986 total cases with 7,614 deaths.
Latest lockdown easing – From March 29 up to six people from different households can meet outdoors and you can enjoy most outdoor sports.
What’s coming next? – Beer gardens and restaurants with outdoor dining can reopen. Non-essential retail venues can also reopen from April 12. May 17 will see easing of international travel restrictions as well as the return of indoor mixing. On June 21, all legal limits on social distancing will be axed.
Infections/deaths: 3,812,188 total cases with 127,616 deaths.
Latest lockdown easing – From March 27 ‘Stay local’ rules scrapped and travel allowed within its borders. Six people from different households can meet indoors
What’s coming next? – Travel between Wales and the rest of the UK will be allowed from April 12 and all non-essential shops will be allowed to open. From April 26, outdoor hospitality will be given the green light. Indoor mixing will be allowed from May 10.
Infections/deaths: 209,627 total cases with 5,511 deaths.
Latest lockdown easing – From March 8 children in pre-school, nursery and primary one to primary three allowed back to the classroom.
What’s coming next? – Northern Ireland does not have a roadmap in the same way as other regions, but non-essential shops and travel is expected to come back soon.
Infections/deaths: 117,503 total cases with 2,116 deaths
But at the same time, the watchdog paved the way for a potential U-turn, warning that the rate of the complication did appear to be slightly higher than expected in vaccinated under-60s.
Experts across the board say the evidence is now ‘shifting’ and that the jab is likely – in extremely rare cases – to cause the brain blockage.
Britain’s medical regulator may also impose a German-style ban of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, it emerged last night.
Sources told Channel 4 it could stop under-30s getting the jab – which is the main one being deployed in Britain.
But Government insiders told the Telegraph that regulators were unlikely to impose any age-based ban.
It came amid reports that thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being wasted in France following a ‘wave of panic’ triggered by its suspension.
And it was also claimed that EU officials are confident they will have enough doses to immunize the majority of their citizens by the end of June.
Britain is aiming to have offered a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
The World Health Organization still maintains there is ‘no link for the moment’ between the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.
Rogerio Pinto de Sa Gaspar, director of regulation and prequalification at the WHO, told a briefing today: ‘The appraisal that we have for the moment, and this is under consideration by the experts, is that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine is still largely positive.’
He added: ‘For the time being there is no evidence that the benefit-risk assessment for the vaccine needs to be changed and we know from the data coming from countries like the UK and others that the benefits are really important in terms of reduction of the mortality of populations that are being vaccinated.’
Scientists insist the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risks for elderly people — who are most at risk of hospitalisation or death if they catch the virus.
But they warn that the picture is ‘more complicated’ for young people.
Experts estimate the risk of dying of Covid for 25 to 44-year-olds is 0.04 per cent – or one in 2,500.
For comparison, the rate of CVST cases seen in Germany — which originally banned the jab for over-60s over the same blood clot fears — is around one in 90,000.
It is not clear how many younger adults will suffer the blood clots naturally — but officials admit the risk is higher in women under the age of 50.
Officials are working round-the-clock to disentangle the statistical risk, analysing the background rate of CVST as well as the reported rate among people given AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
‘In the next few hours, we will say that there is a connection, but we still have to understand how this happens,’ Mr Cavaleri told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
‘Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis… among young people than we would expect.’
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said the results of the EMA’s review of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected Wednesday.
How many doses has Britain ordered of each vaccine?
Pfizer/BioNTech (approved) 40million doses
The breakthrough jab was the first in the world to be proven to successfully block severe Covid-19 last year and it gained approval in the UK on December 2.
Type: It uses brand-new technology and is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code to enters cells and tells them to create antigens, which make them look like the coronavirus.
Efficacy: Studies showed the two-dose vaccine could prevent severe illness in 95 per cent of people who were injected with it.
How many? The Government has ordered 40million doses, enough to vaccinate 20million Brits, but only a handful of million Brits have received the jab so far.
Oxford University/AstraZeneca (approved) — 100million doses
Type: Oxford’s vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus known as adenovirus which is genetically engineered to carry the genetics needed to create ‘spike’ proteins that make cells look like the coronavirus.
Efficacy: It was shown to be about 70 per cent effective at blocking Covid-19. In early results this varied from 62 per cent in people who received the full two doses to 90 per cent in people who received 1.5, however scientists say the 62 per cent figure has improved since those results were published.
How many? The UK has ordered 100million doses.
Moderna (approved) — 17million doses ordered
Type: Moderna’s jab also uses mRNA technology and works in a similar way to the Pfizer one already being offered on the NHS.
Efficacy: It was found to have 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials.
How many? Britain has ordered 17million doses but was late to the party because it didn’t want to bet on this as well as the Pfizer jab, because both are based on the same technology. The first doses are expected to arrive in March.
Novavax (waiting approval) — 100million doses
Type: The Novavax vaccine works like other vaccines by teaching the immune system to make antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein. Researchers inserted a modified gene into a virus, called a baculovirus, and allowed it to infect insect cells. Spike proteins from these cells were then assembled into nanoparticles which, while they look like coronavirus, cannot replicate or cause Covid-19.
Efficacy: Novavax said the trials had shown its vaccine was 89.3 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.
How many? Under a deal with the Government, 60million doses of the vaccine will be produced on Teesside for use in this country.
Janssen/Johnson and Johnson (waiting approval) — 30million doses
Type: The jab uses the same adenovirus technology as the Oxford University vaccine, making it just as easy to transport and store, but requires just a single injection to protect against Covid.
Efficacy: Johnson and Johnson said it prevents, on average, 66 per cent of all coronavirus cases among people who get the jab.
The company also found it prevented severe symptoms in 85 per cent of people and no-one who got the jab died or needed hospital treatment from 28 days after being inoculated.
The 66 per cent efficacy was a global average, with the jab preventing 72 per cent of cases in the US but only 57 per cent in South Africa, which is being devastated by a mutated variant that appears to be less susceptible to vaccines and immunity from older versions of the virus. It is promising, however, that the jab still worked in South Africa and still prevented hospitalisation.
How many? The UK has already struck a deal for 30million doses, with the option of ordering 22million more.
Valneva (in trials) — 100million doses
Type: This jab is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’ which uses a damaged version of the real coronavirus to stimulate the immune system.
Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing,
How many? Britain has already ordered 100million doses and the first batches could be delivered by the end of 2021.
GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur (in trials) — 60million doses
Type: GSK’s vaccine is based on the existing technology used to produce Sanofi’s seasonal flu vaccine. Genetic material from the surface protein of the Covid virus is inserted into insect cells – the basis of Sanofi’s influenza product – and then injected to provoke an immune response in a human patient.
Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing.
How many? The UK in July secured 60million doses of the prospective treatment, but the companies say they will likely not be ready before the end of 2021.