How does Moderna vaccine work and which countries are in line for it?

How does Moderna vaccine work and which countries are first in line for it? As new Covid-19 jab is said to be 94.5% effective, we answer your questions about the latest development

  • US spent $1bn on vaccine and is promised 20million doses by the end of year 
  • UK ministers were concerned would take too long to get jab from Switzerland
  • Was tested on 95 people with Covid – five were given jab, rest given placebo 

Which countries are first in line for the Moderna jab?

The US, which spent more than $1billion bankrolling the vaccine, is promised 20million doses by the end of the year.

It will get 100million in total, with an option to buy an additional 400million.

Japan has ordered 50million doses, Canada has 20million promised, with the option of 36million more, Switzerland is promised 4.5million doses, and the EU could get up to 160million in total.

Other countries given priority include Israel and Qatar. The UK will get just five million doses between April and June.

Moderna has become the second high-profile company to confirm interim results of a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine, claiming that the jab is nearly 95 per cent effective

Why were we so slow?

Ministers had been in talks with Moderna since before its first early trial results were published in May. 

But officials are understood to have been concerned it would take too long to get the jab from the European manufacturing site in Switzerland.

What do the results tell us?

The interim results from a study of more than 30,000 people in the US are based on 95 patients who were confirmed to have Covid. 

Just five of these had been given the vaccine, with 90 receiving the placebo, which suggests the jab prevents illness. 

Of the 11 who became severely ill, none had been given the vaccine.

How does it compare?

Just two other vaccines have produced early efficacy results showing whether they work so far.

Moderna announced that its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective a week after German firm BioNtech and pharmaceutical company Pfizer reported their jab being more than 90 per cent effective. 

Russia’s vaccine is said to be 92 per cent effective, but this is based on a smaller number of only 20 Covid cases.

How easy is it to roll out?

There are concerns about the Pfizer vaccine, because it has to initially be kept at around -75C (-103F). 

The Moderna vaccine must be stored at -20C (-4F), which makes it easier to deal with. 

While the Pfizer vaccine can be kept at normal refrigerator temperatures of 2C to 8C for five days, the Moderna jab can be kept in the same conditions for 30 days.

Moderna’s vaccine works in the same way as the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, by using genetic material called RNA from the coronavirus to trick the body into making the ‘spike’ proteins that the virus uses to latch onto cells inside the body

How does it work?

Like the Pfizer vaccine, it contains genetic code called messenger RNA (mRNA) in a fat droplet. 

Injected into the body, it triggers cells to make the spike protein on the coronavirus.

Their immune system can then recognise this part of the virus and fight it off when they encounter it.

How many vaccines do we have early access to?

The UK has now struck deals to get a total of 355million doses of seven individual vaccines.

By the end of the year, ten million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are planned to be available, followed by another 30million next year.

The Government has also secured up to 100million doses of the vaccine developed at Oxford University.

Other vaccines are set to come from Valneva, Novavax, Janssen, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, and now Moderna.

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