MINISTERS are scrambling to secure supplies of a new Covid vaccine that is expected to report successful trial results within days.
The Government is said to be "desperate" to have an order accepted before US firm Moderna publishes its findings.
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The UK has already agreed deals for six different vaccine candidates and has access to 350 million doses to date.
But this does not include any from Moderna, that make one of the three jabs experts believe will be ready for use by Christmas.
Others may not be ready until well into next year.
Pfizer revealed last week that its jab prevents 90 per cent of cases and the University of Oxford could report results this month.
The UK has agreements with these two and the NHS is on standby to roll-out any jab from December 1 if approved by regulators.
But Moderna is now likely to reveal its results before Oxford and ministers do not want to look like they had their eye off the ball.
A source said: “The Government is desperate to have secured a deal for the Moderna vaccine before the company reports their results.
“Ministers don’t want the embarrassment of a company reporting successful trial results for an early jab Brits will not be able to get.
“They want the country to have access to a working jab as soon as possible and Moderna is clearly now a potential front-runner.”
A government source told The Sun officials are in “advanced talks” with Moderna and hope to announce a deal soon.
Moderna completed enrollment of 30,000 participants for its final phase three trial in the US in October.
And it revealed last week that enough of them have now caught Covid for scientists to tell if the jab works.
They are analysing the data to see if those given the real jab were less likely to catch it than those given a placebo.
Experts are hopeful it will prove successful because it is based on similar technology to the jab developed by Pfizer.
A Government spokesperson said: “The UK government has secured early access to 350 million vaccines doses through agreements with six separate vaccine developers, giving the UK the most likely chance of securing a safe and effective vaccine at the quickest speed.
“We have invested up to £93 million in a new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, and a further £38 million has been invested in a rapid deployment facility.
“This will support efforts to ensure a vaccine is widely available to the public as soon as possible, should a UK vaccine be successful.”
The UK will today become the first country to run final stage trials for a Covid vaccine developed by pharma firm Janssen.
It is the third coronavirus jab to be tested on Brits – after those from Oxford and Novavax – and will involve 6,000 people nationwide.
Ministers have secured access to 30 million doses, should it prove successful, with results expected from mid-2021 onwards.
Interim analysis of phase one and two trials indicated it induces a “robust immune response” and is generally well-tolerated.
And British drugs giant Glaxo-SmithKline yesterday revealed it has already manufactured “millions of doses” of its Covid jab.
Roger Connor, its president of global vaccines, said the firm had launched mass production and is set to launch final trials.
It is aiming for safety approval in the first half of next year.
Prof Ugur Sahin, a scientist behind the Pfizer jab, said yesterday: “If everything continues to go well, we will start to deliver the vaccine end of this year, beginning next year.
“Our goal is to deliver more than 300 million of vaccine doses until April next year, which could allow us to already start to make an impact.”
Side-effects include a slight pain at the injection site and fever for a few days.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to publish a "comprehensive national action plan" for rolling out a jab.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Sir Keir said the plan should detail who will be eligible for the vaccine, when and where.
He called for the likes of town halls and sports centres to be refurbished so they can be used as vaccine centres.
And he added: “This will be a mammoth logistical operation, probably larger than we have seen since the Second World War.”
The Government yesterday said a further 168 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, taking the toll to 51,934.
It also reported a further 24,962 people had a lab-confirmed positive test result, with the total now standing at 1,369,318.
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