Moderna boss says his firm is on track to make sure Britain gets all 17million doses

Head of European operations, Dan Staner, said they were on track with deliveries

Head of European operations, Dan Staner, said they were on track with deliveries

Moderna is on track to deliver all the doses Britain has ordered by the end of the year, one of the company’s senior officials said today, 

Ministers have struck a deal for 17million doses of the two-dose jab – enough for 8.5million people.

The first batch of 100,000 doses have arrived, with Wales and Scotland using the jab already. Supplies are expected to ‘significantly increase’ from next month.

The jab will be essential for the roll-out moving forward, after the drug regulator ruled under-30s should receive an alternative to AstraZeneca‘s vaccine.

But should the restriction be extended to under-40s, as has been suggested, then the drive could be thrown into difficulty.

More than 31.8million Britons -or three in five adults – have already received a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Moderna’s head of European operations, Dan Staner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they would be able to supply all ordered doses this year. 

More than 13.8million Britons have already received a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, and the first Moderna dose were rolled out in Wales this week

More than 13.8million Britons have already received a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, and the first Moderna dose were rolled out in Wales this week

UNDER-40S COULD ALSO BE GIVEN ALTERNATIVE JABS 

AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine may also be restricted for under-40s when Britain’s immunisation drive moves down to younger age groups, it was claimed today.

Medical watchdogs will assess data on the jab’s links to extremely rare blood clots in ‘scrupulous detail’ in order to paint a clearer picture on the exact risk-benefit ratio.

They have already advised 18 to 29 year olds are given an alternative to the UK-made jab because their odds of falling seriously ill with Covid are so small that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s do not clearly outweigh the potential clot risks.

Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the JCVI, which advises No10 on jabs, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We’re going to start vaccinating phase two healthy adults, starting with the 40 to 50-year-olds, and then we’ll go to the 30 to 40-year-olds.

‘When we are approaching that point we’ll need to think about this a little bit more to be absolutely sure at what point in that age cut-off – given the situation we are facing at that time, and any more data that comes through on this rare complication, because more data will come through – then that might alter the age range.’

Statisticians insist the risk of under-30s developing blood clots from AstraZeneca’s jab is so tiny that if Wembley stadium was filled with people in the age group, only one would be struck down.

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‘The first deliveries are starting in April, and between April and the year’s end, we’re supposed to deliver to the expectations in the contract with the UK Government of 17million doses, which is enough to cover 8.5million people,’ he said. 

‘We feel very good. Our contracts are usually on a quarterly basis. 

‘[And] I’m very happy to let you know Moderna, across all of European countries at the end of Q1 (January to March), has been able to deliver on its commitments.

‘We have very good hope we’ll be able to deliver on our second quarter (April to June) commitments as well.’ 

The Moderna jab is based on mRNA technology, similar to Pfizer’s, which triggers the production of Covid spike proteins that spark an immune response.

The vaccine was shown to be 94 per cent effective at preventing infections with the virus during clinical trials, and is just as strong against the Kent variant.

But concerns were raised it may be less able to fight off the South African or Brazilian strains – with experts at the US company already working on booster shots.

It comes after the UK’s medical regulator ruled under-30s should receive an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine following blood clot fears.

They pointed out that it was vanishingly rare for the Oxford-made vaccine to trigger a clot, but that the low risk of death from Covid among younger people made offering them this jab ‘more complicated’.

There have been 79 cases of the rare blood clot called CVST – its medical name – compared to more than 18million AstraZeneca doses given, or just one in 250,000.

The families of patients who have suffered blood clots after getting the jab have urged other Britons to still get the vaccine to end the pandemic, saying their relatives were ‘extremely unlucky’.

Britain’s vaccination drive has been described by experts as the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for getting out the pandemic.

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