A third Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use in the UK, the Government announced today.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Human Medicines and authorised the Moderna vaccine. The UK has ordered an additional ten million doses of the vaccine, taking its total to 17 million.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is further great news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease. “We have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK and Moderna’s vaccine will allow us to accelerate 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.”

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam added: “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.”

The Moderna vaccine is said to be 94 percent effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly.

The MHRA gave approval after “rigorous clinical trials” involving tens of thousands of people and an “extensive analysis” of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness, the Government said.

Supplies are not expected to arrive until the spring so will not be part of the huge operation to step up vaccinations to at least two million a week in the coming weeks.

Ministers have pledged that there will be more than 1,000 vaccination sites up and running by the end of the week. However, some GPs have reported problems getting vaccine supplies and have been forced to postpone vaccination appointments.

Boris Johnson has set the goal of more than 13 million shots by mid-February, for the over 70s, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents, as well as other individuals vulnerable to Covid.

The Government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and 40 million of the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs, the latter being more difficult to use as it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees C.