The UK has become the first country in the world to approve Moderna’s bivalent Covid-19 vaccine, which targets both the original virus strain and the newer Omicron variant.
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LONDON – Britain on Monday became the first country in the world to approve a dual Covid-19 vaccine, targeting both the original virus and the newer Omicron variant.
The updated Moderna vaccine – known as bivalent because it targets two variants – is expected to be available as a booster dose for adults from autumn after Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products regulator got the green light on Monday.
It has also been endorsed by the UK Government’s independent scientific advisory body, the Commission for Medicinal Products for Human Use.
The MHRA said existing vaccines – designed to fight the original strain of Covid – would continue to offer good protection, but the enhanced version would offer better defenses if the virus evolved.
“The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives. This bivalent vaccine gives us a sharpened tool in our arsenal to protect against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” said Dr. June Raine, Chief Executive of MHRA.
Greater protection against variants
The Commission for Medicinal Products for Human Use added that the approval represents a step forward for vaccine development, particularly for viruses with a high level of mutation.
“The virus, SARS-CoV-2, is constantly evolving to evade vaccine immunity. This novel bivalent vaccine represents the next step in the development of vaccines to combat the virus as it can result in a broader immune response than the original vaccine.”
The approval follows clinical trials which showed that a booster dose of Moderna’s bivalent vaccine elicited a strong immune response against both the original 2020 strain and omicron BA.1, which emerged in the UK last winter.
It has also been found to elicit a good immune response against the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which are currently the dominant strains in the country.
After releasing the results in June, Moderna’s chief executive Stephane Bancel said he was confident the new iteration would become its “prime candidate for a fall 2022 booster.”
“This bivalent vaccine plays an important role in protecting people in the UK from Covid-19 as we enter the winter months,” Bancel added in a statement on Monday.
The UK government has not yet announced exactly who will receive the vaccine, but all over 50s and those in high-risk groups in the UK will be offered some form of booster shot from next month.
The government lowered the age limit for those eligible for an autumn booster in July after the virus continued to spread.
Vaccines are considered one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread and severity of the virus. Research in the medical journal The Lancet estimated in June that Covid-19 vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths in the first year of use.
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/15/uk-becomes-first-country-to-approve-modernas-dual-covid-19-vaccine.html The UK becomes the first country to approve Moderna’s dual Covid-19 vaccine