28/03/2021 11:01 BST | Updated 28/03/2021 11:03 BST

Moderna Vaccine Will Arrive In April, Oliver Dowden Says

Culture secretary said vaccine rollout was on course but casted doubts over whether Brits can book summer holidays abroad.

Yui MokPA
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden takes part in an on air interview outside BBC Broadcasting House in central London before appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Picture date: Sunday March 28, 2021.

The Moderna vaccine will arrive in the UK by the end of April, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said. 

Speaking on Sunday, the cabinet minister sought to reassure Brits shipments of the new jab were still on course to reach the health service, after reports last week that the UK vaccine rollout could slide. 

He also confirmed all people would get their second jab of the Covid shot within 12 weeks of their first. 

Dowden cast doubt over whether people could begin booking summer holidays abroad, however, as a third wave of the pandemic appeared to be taking hold in mainland Europe. 

Ministers have insisted they will meet the target of giving a jab to all adults by July, but supplies have been affected by issues in India and a row with the European Union over exports has raised concerns.

Dowden insisted that the vaccination programme remains “on course”, telling BBC One’s Andrew Marr: “We expect that in April Moderna will come.”

The US vaccine has been approved for use in the UK and would be the third to be rolled out after Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

The culture secretary said he could guarantee that everyone will get a second dose of a coronavirus vaccine within 12 weeks of their first after doubts were raised by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“Yes, of course, we’ve been planning that all the way through. It’s one of the most important considerations as we’ve rolled out the vaccine,” Dowden told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

Ian WestPA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, London. Picture date: Wednesday March 17, 2021.

He said that “we clearly don’t currently have a surplus of vaccines” when asked about suggestions the UK was planning to offer 3.7 million jabs to Ireland.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, who advises the government on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said he was “a little bit nervous about a full relaxation” planned for June 21.

He told the BBC the road map to easing restrictions in England must be “guided by the data” particularly on vaccines, adding: “The idea that we can suddenly emerge from this in one great bound, I think, is a little over-optimistic.”

Dowden said another lockdown “is the last thing in the world we would want to do” but acknowledged dates in the road map may slip if things worsen.

“Of course they could be delayed if the situation deteriorates but at the moment we’re on track,” he told Marr.

Travel abroad is currently illegal other than for a few reasons but a government taskforce will on April 12 detail a review on whether foreign holidays can return.

Dowden said “all options” are being considered when asked about a possible system that could allow shorter quarantine periods with greater testing for countries deemed less risky.

But he told Ridge there are “challenges around international travel”, pointing towards rising infection rates in Europe.