Britain on Wednesday began rolling out its third coronavirus vaccine, from US company Moderna, as questions mounted over jabs from the country’s main supplier, AstraZeneca.
The Moderna vaccine, which is already being delivered in Europe and the United States, joined ones from AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Pfizer-BioNTech in Britain’s armoury against Covid-19.
The first jab of the two-stage Moderna inoculation was given at a hospital in Wales to 24-year-old Elle Taylor.
The arrival of the Moderna inoculation represents a timely diversification of Britain’s rollout, and was hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“We have ordered 17 million doses that will be going into arms across the UK in the coming weeks. Please get your jab as soon as you are contacted,” he tweeted.
Supply problems for AstraZeneca had threatened to complicate Britain’s inoculation drive this month, and concerns are building over a potential link between the jab and rare blood clots among a small number of recipients.
Oxford University said late Tuesday that it had paused a British trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine on children.
The university said the trial had posed “no safety concerns”, but that it was awaiting more data from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before restarting the study.
The MHRA says it is looking into the cases of clotting, amid reports that the regulator may join some countries in the European Union in restricting access in younger age groups.
The MHRA reported at the weekend that there had been 30 blood clotting cases, seven fatal, out of 18 million doses administered in Britain.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also looking anew at the issue, but so far the World Health Organization insists the jab is safe.