Where is the Moderna vaccine made? Who owns the UK's third approved vaccine and when will it be available?

The UK has now pre-ordered 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine

By Chelsea Rocks
Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 10:38 am
The Moderna vaccine is the second to be made in the US (Picture: Shutterstock)
The Moderna vaccine is the second to be made in the US (Picture: Shutterstock)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have made it clear that the coronavirus vaccine is the life saver we need in order to return to a normal way of life.

It is therefore welcome news that a third vaccine has now been verified as safe and effective for use in the UK.

The Moderna vaccine joins the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the list of approved vaccines for roll-out.

But who owns it and how does it work? This is what you need to know.

How does the Moderna vaccine work?

The third approved vaccine works similarly to the Pfizer vaccine, using messenger RNA (mRNA), genetic material that our cells read to make proteins.

mRNA is fragile and can be killed inside our bodies, rendering it unable to help the body build the protein necessary to fight the virus.

The Moderna vaccine works by wrapping the mRNA in oily lipids (fats) which protect the material until it binds to our cells.

Once the mRNA has produced proteins required to fight the virus, The mRNA from the vaccine is eventually destroyed but leaves protein behind which binds to our immune cells and allows us to fight against the virus.

The Moderna vaccine is much easier to transport than Pfizer - Moderna requires storage of -20C, while the Pfizer vaccine is stored at -75C.

It is administered by injecting a 0.5ml dose into a patient’s arm and requires a second dose, 28 days after the first, similar to Oxford and Pfizer vaccines.

The Moderna vaccine is thought to be around 95 percent effective, following two doses.

Who owns the vaccine?

Moderna, a Massachusetts-based vaccine developer created the vaccine, known as mRNA -1273, with America’s National Institutes of Health.

This vaccine is the one of two established in the US, alongside the Pfizer vaccine.

Moderna claimed in November 2020 that the vaccine was 95% effective, following extensive testing in the States which involved 30,000 people.

The company was established in 2010 and focuses on drug discovery, drug development, and vaccine technologies, almost entirely focused on mRNA.

Thanks to their efforts in determining a coronavirus vaccine, the company is now thought to be worth $60 billion (£44 billion).

When will the Moderna vaccine be available in the UK?

Despite being authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK, we are not expected to see it used until the spring.

The UK has pre-ordered 17 million doses of the vaccine, with 1.5 million of the UK’s most vulnerable and key workers already vaccinated using Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The USA and Canada have already used the Moderna vaccine, but there have been significant issues with the production and transport of the Oxford vaccine and Pfizer in the UK.

On 8 January, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock commented on the news that Moderna has been accepted for use in Britain.

He said: "This is further great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease."

Boris Johnson has now set a target to offer vaccination to 15 million of the country’s most vulnerable - including all over-80s - by 15 February.

This came as he admitted “lumpiness and bumpiness” in the roll out of the vaccine, so far.