Omicron booster: UK becomes first nation to approve vaccine targeting two Covid-19 variants

“An updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna that targets two coronavirus variants (known as a ‘bivalent’ vaccine) has today been approved for adult booster doses by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s standards for safety, quality and effectiveness,” an official government statement said on Monday.

Half of the booster, called “Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron,” targets the original coronavirus strain, while the other half targets Omicron, it said.

The UK government said the decision to give approval for the shot was approved by the MHRA, the government̵[ads1]7;s independent scientific advisory body, after careful review of the evidence.

It was approved following the results of a clinical trial, where Moderna reported that the booster targeting Omicron showed a stronger immune response against the variant. The company said the updated booster also showed a “potent” response against the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.

The side effects were described by the MHRA as the same as for the original Moderna booster dose and were found to be “typically mild and self-resolving.”

“No serious safety concerns were identified,” the UK government’s release said.

As Covid-19 continues to mutate, MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine said the new Moderna booster will help keep communities protected.

“The first generation of covid-19 vaccines used in the UK continues to provide vital protection against the disease and save lives. What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armory to protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve .”

It is not yet clear who will be offered the booster or when. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) will advise on the vaccine’s rollout.

St├ęphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, so on Twitter he was “happy” that the vaccine had been approved.

“This represents the first approval of an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine, this bivalent vaccine has an important role to play in protecting people in the UK from Covid-19 as we move into the winter months,” he said.

Moderna is not the only vaccine manufacturer to update its Covid-19 vaccines.

In June, Pfizer and BioNTech tested two Covid-19 vaccine boosters to target the Omicron variant. The companies said preliminary results show a significantly higher immune response than the current Covid-19 shots.

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