U.K. Expects to Receive First Moderna Vaccines in Coming Weeks

Britain expects to receive the first doses of the U.S.-made Moderna Inc. vaccine within weeks, a government minister said Sunday.

The arrival of the shot comes as the European Union toughens restrictions on exports and Britain faces a significant reduction in supplies in April due to a delayed delivery from India.

“We expect that in April Moderna will come,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr show.”

The U.K. has so far vaccinated more than half the adult population using shots made by Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc. The program is critical to plans to reopen an economy that had its deepest contraction last year for more than three centuries.

Dowden said the government is on track to offer first doses of a vaccine to all over 50s by the middle of April and to the rest of the adult population by the end of July. There is also no danger of people unable to get their second dose of the same jab within 12 weeks, he said.

The culture secretary spoke as the government prepares to relax some lockdown restrictions on Monday. People will be able to meet outdoors in greater numbers and outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts will be permitted to reopen. The aim is to remove remaining restrictions on social contact from June 21.

Britain and the EU are in talks to resolve a standoff over vaccine sharing as the bloc attempts to get its own immunization program back on track. Last week, the two sides indicated progress in defusing the spat.

“We continue to have constructive discussions with the EU,” Dowden said. “Our position is very clear. The EU should not be engaging in blocking exports” and contracts should be honored, he said.

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