A third Covid vaccine has been approved for use in the UK as the country battles a rapid rise in cases.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, the Department for Health has announced.

The new vaccine works in a similar way to the Pfizer vaccine that is already being offered by the NHS.

The Moderna vaccine requires temperatures of around -20C, similar to a normal freezer, making it easier to store and distribute. 

The Government has ordered 17 million doses of the Moderna jab, but supplies will not delivered until the spring.

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.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said approval of the Moderna vaccine was “great news”.

He tweeted: “Vaccination is obviously now the huge national priority. Given the intense pressure the NHS is under it’s vital NHS staff on frontline are vaccinated urgently.”

Around 1.5 million people have already received their first dose of Covid vaccine so far including almost a quarter of people over the age of 80 in England.

Vaccines are being offered to the most vulnerable members of society first.

The Government’s nine high priority groups covers around 30 million people in the UK.

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