A THIRD coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, but doses will not be available until the spring.

The jab from US biotech firm Moderna has been given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

But unlike the previous jabs, the Moderna vaccine will not be available for use straight away, with the first doses not expected to arrive until the spring.

The Government also purchased an additional 10 million doses of the vaccine on top of its previous order of seven million, taking the total to 17 million.

Supplies will begin to be delivered to the UK from spring once Moderna expands its production capability, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The MHRA accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Human Medicines and authorised the Moderna vaccine following months of rigorous clinical trials and extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.

The jab is 94 per cent effective in preventing disease, including in the elderly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that the approval was “excellent news”, adding: “Our national vaccine effort is accelerating to vaccinate priority groups with our existing two vaccines, and the Moderna doses will add to that when they become available in spring.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.

“Through our vaccine delivery plan, we have already vaccinated nearly 1.5 million people across the UK.

“The Moderna vaccine will boost 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.”

The authorisation comes just days after the end of the Brexit transition period, and two days after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the jab for adults.