New coronavirus vaccine: Moderna supplies to NI ‘very modest’ and won’t arrive until June

Supplies of a new type of vaccine that Health Minister Robin Swann said would “add another string to our bow” in the fight against coronavirus won’t arrive in Northern Ireland until June, it has been revealed.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:55 pm
Pharmacists transport a cooler containing the Moderna vaccine, at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, the third vaccine to be approved for use in the UK, to be given to patients in Wales. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.

The Moderna vaccine, which is being used widely in countries such as the USA and Canada, is expected to bolster Northern Ireland’s supplies.

It has also been used in limited numbers as part of the vaccine roll-out in Wales.

Currently, Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme is using two types of vaccine to protect people from coronavirus — one manufactured by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca and another manufactured by the US company Pfizer.

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Mr Swann said in March that supplies of Moderna were expected “within the next number of weeks”.

The minister hailed the expected arrival of the vaccines as “an additional string to our bow”.

But the head of the roll-out in Northern Ireland, Patricia Donnelly, has now said supplies aren’t expected until after next month with only a “very modest” amount due to arrive.

Asked by the News Letter during a press briefing on Wednesday evening when the Moderna vaccines are due to arrive, she said: “We’re not likely to get it until June.

“It will be one of those vaccines that can be used as an alternative to Astra Zeneca, although we’re not currently including it in our plans because we have very modest amounts coming.

“You can’t really depend on it at this stage but we are likely to use it with the younger age group when it arrives.”