THE UK will have access to five million doses of the Moderna vaccine if it is approved, Matt Hancock has announced.

The firm has claimed a 94.5 per cent effectiveness against the illness for the vaccine, although it is not expected to be available in the UK before spring 2021.

At a Downing Street press conference the Health Secretary said the preliminary results for the vaccine were “excellent news”.

“Although I stress that this is preliminary, the safety data is limited and their production facilities are not yet at scale,” he added.

“While we don’t yet have a vaccine, we can now have hope.”

Speaking at this evening’s coronavirus briefing from Downing Street, Mr Hancock said the government had secured an “initial agreement” for five million doses.

It comes after the US firm announced earlier today that its vaccine may prevent 94.5 per cent of people from getting Covid-19 - but it was not one of the trials the UK had initially preordered.

Mr Hancock said: “The Moderna vaccine won’t be available until the Spring, so I am really pleased that we have got those early vaccines that will be available early.”

The pre-order of 5 million doses brings the UK’s total orders (across all vaccines so far) to 350 million at this time. 

Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam added: “Whether any vaccine is going to work is simply unknowable until the data is looked at. It’s the same with all of the vaccines.”

Test and Trace was also a key topic of the briefing, due to the announcement earlier today of two new “megalabs” in early 2021.

The two laboratories, one in Leamington Spa and another in Scotland, will together add 600,00  to daily testing capacity - doubling the current capacity - the health secretary said. 

Today’s daily case rate for the UK is 25,329 up from 22,443, Mr Hancock announced during the briefing.

In addition, there were  14,915 UK coronavirus patients in hospital today and yesterday 168 deaths were recorded.

“These numbers make painfully clear that this virus remains a potent threat,” said Mr Hancock.