A fourth Coronavirus jab could be approved for use in Britain within days – as the vaccine programme gears up to include people in their 40s.
The health regulator will make a decision on the single-dose Janssen vaccine in the next ten days, according to The Mail on Sunday.
The Government has already put in an order for 30 million doses, and the new jab could provide a boost to the UK’s vaccine programme.
There have been warnings that the pace of the first-dose rollout would slow a little this month after delayed shipments and as more people begin to receive their second doses.
But one big advantage of the Janssen jab is that it only requires a single injection. The vaccine, made by the Belgian pharmaceutical firm Janssen (owned by Johnson & Johnson) can also be stored at regular fridge temperature.
The renewed pace of the programme means jabs will soon be offered to the under-50s, it has been reported.
The news comes as lockdown measures begin to ease further. From Monday, non-essential retail will reopen and pubs, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers will welcome back customers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of doses of the Moderna jab – the third to be used in Britain after the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer jabs – are coming on stream.
The Government has bought enough to vaccinate about 8.5 million people, and the first of 17 million doses the UK ordered were administered in Wales earlier this week.
Elle Taylor, an unpaid carer, was the first person in the UK to receive the Moderna coronavirus vaccine. The 24-year-old from Ammanford was given the jab at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen as the UK began the rollout on Wednesday.
Miss Taylor, who works at a further education college in Llanelli, said after receiving the jab: “I’m very excited and very happy.
“I’m an unpaid carer for my grandmother so it is very important to me that I get it, so I can care for her properly and safely.
“My grandmother has had her first dose and she is going for her second dose on Saturday.”
Miss Taylor said she only found out on Tuesday evening that she was to be the first Brit to receive the Moderna jab in the UK.
She hadn’t heard of the Moderna jab before she was told she was getting it.
“It was great, the nurses were lovely and it didn’t hurt,” she said.
The Janssen jab could prove more cost-effective than those made by Moderna and Pfizer because it does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures.
At as little as £7 per dose, it is cheaper than some others, but around the same price as two injections of the Oxford vaccine.
Like other vaccines, it has shown a dip in its efficacy in South Africa, where a one of the most worrying new variants of coronavirus has been spreading.
But the results have shown that even up against this variant, it is still better than no vaccine at all.