Britain authorized Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, following previous approval granted for shots developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
The nod from the U.K.’s regulatory agency was said to follow “a thorough and rigorous assessment,” as well as advice from an independent commission, according to a government statement released Friday.
“Today’s approval brings more encouraging news to the public and the healthcare sector,” Dr. June Raine, chief executive of Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said in the statement. “Having a third COVID-19 vaccine approved for supply following a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data is an important goal to have achieved and I am proud that the agency has helped to make this a reality.”
Britain has ordered an additional 10 million doses of the vaccine, bringing the total to 17 million doses. They are not expected to be delivered to the U.K. until spring.
So far, Britain has inoculated 1.5 million people with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccines. It plans to vaccinate some 15 million people by mid-February.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to Twitter to celebrate the news of the vaccine’s approval.
“Brilliant that the @moderna_tx vaccine is the 3rd COVID vaccine approved for use in the UK,” Hancock wrote. “This is a great addition to our existing vaccine portfolio – helping in our national effort to defeat coronavirus & get back to normal.”
The approval follows Britain’s major leap on Monday to become the first country in the world to administer vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, a shot not yet approved in the U.S.
While the U.K. leapfrogged the European Union to grant the Pfizer vaccine temporary approval, the EU gave Moderna’s vaccine the green light on Thursday.
The nod comes amid record high cases linked to highly contagious mutated strains, with the government logging over 50,000 new infections Thursday, and another 1,162 deaths. The number of virus-related deaths is also approaching spring-time highs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.