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Third vaccine approved: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine authorised by UK medicines regulator

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The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised the Moderna vaccine after an extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been authorised for use by the medicines regulator.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Human Medicines and authorised the Moderna vaccine following months of rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and an extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.

The vaccine is 94% effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly. The government was one of the first to sign an agreement with the company to supply the vaccine on behalf of the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.

The government has agreed to purchase an additional 10 million doses of the Moderna vaccine on top of its previous order of 7 million, taking the total to 17 million. As agreed when the UK originally pre-ordered the vaccine, supplies will begin to be delivered to the UK from spring once Moderna expands its production capability.

The vaccine will be available for free and the government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK.

UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.

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Through our vaccine delivery plan we have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK. The Moderna vaccine will boost our vaccination programme even further once doses become available from the spring.

“While we immunise those most at risk from COVID, I urge everyone to continue following the rules to keep cases low to protect our loved ones.

“Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, with more than 1,000 vaccination sites live by the end of the week across the UK to rapidly scale up the vaccination programme.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will submit updated advice on which groups to prioritise for vaccination before doses become available.”

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Vaccines are the key to releasing us all from the grip of this pandemic, and today’s news is yet another important step towards ending lockdown and returning to normal life.

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“The UK was one of the first countries in Europe to sign a deal with Moderna, and I’m delighted our Vaccine Taskforce has secured an additional 10 million doses of their highly effective vaccine to protect the British public and save lives.

“From the scientists and trial volunteers to our world-class regulators and clinicians, we are enormously grateful to everyone who has played their part in this national effort to defeat the virus and get our country back on its feet.

“The NHS has decades of experience in rolling out successful widespread vaccination programmes and is putting into place extensive preparations for the roll-out of the Moderna vaccine ahead of the spring.”

The Moderna vaccine will be deployed through similar methods:

  • hospital hubs for NHS and care staff and older patients to get vaccinated
  • local community services with local teams and GPs already signing up to take part in the programme
  • vaccination centres across the country, ensuring people can access a vaccine regardless of where they live

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The NHS is pulling out all the stops to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible, with over 1,000 vaccination sites live across the UK by the end of the week to provide easy access to everyone, regardless of where they live.”

“The Moderna vaccine will be a vital boost to these efforts and will help us return to normal faster.”

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Through the Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 367 million doses of 7 of the most promising vaccines so far. To date, the government has invested over £230 million into manufacturing a successful vaccine. In the Chancellor’s Spending Review, published on 25 November, it was announced that the government has made more than £6 billion available to develop and procure successful vaccines.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “The highly effective Moderna vaccine is another impressive success for science and is another testament to the hard work of researchers and selfless clinical trial volunteers.

“This vaccine will save lives once doses become available, but it is crucial we all continue to follow the rules to protect each other until enough people have been protected.”

Interim Chair of the government’s Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix said: “This is another important milestone in our efforts to end this pandemic, and I would like to thank those in the government’s Vaccine Taskforce who have worked so hard to negotiate agreements with vaccine developers.”

“A key objective for the Vaccine Taskforce is to ensure we have a range of vaccines to deliver to the UK population. The addition of the Moderna vaccine to the UK’s portfolio is important to reach that goal.”

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(Lead image: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels.com)


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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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