Britain is the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine that targets both the original and Omicron variants of the virus. The UK Medicines Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has approved the bivalent vaccine manufactured by the US pharmaceutical company Moderna. The agency’s decision was based on clinical trial data that showed the booster triggered “a strong immune response” against both Omicron (BA.1) and the original 2020 virus. “
No side effects
The MHRA also cited an exploratory analysis in which the injection was found to generate a good immune response against the currently dominant BA.4 and BA.5 ramifications of Omicron. No serious safety concerns have been identified with this new formulation, the drug agency noted. Now that approval has been secured, the UK Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) will provide guidance on how to distribute the vaccine in the country.
To whom it will be administered
Local health authorities had already indicated that the booster will be offered – starting next September – to over 50s and to people in the highest risk categories.
“The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK continues to provide important protection against the disease and save lives,” said June Raine, managing director of MHRA. “What this bivalent vaccine offers us is a refined tool in our arsenal to help protect us from this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
The other updated vaccines on the way
In addition to Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech have also tested versions of their modified mRNA vaccine to combat Omicron variants. Meanwhile, Sanofi and partner GSK are working on a protein-based vaccine that targets the sub-variant Beta, which dominated for some time last year.