UK is first to approve Omicron Vaccine against COVID-19
Britain has become the first country in the world to approve a bivalent vaccine against COVID-19, which "works" simultaneously against the original and the current version of the Omicron coronavirus.
On Monday the UK Medicines Regulator (MHRA) gave conditional approval to the vaccine, made by US pharmaceutical company Moderna, as a booster for adults. The marketing authorization for use will be issued in the coming days.
The vaccine is expected to be available as a booster in the fall, providing better protection against variants of the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
The MHRA's decision was based on clinical trial data showing that the booster elicited a "strong immune response" against both the Omicron sub-variant (BA.1) and the original Wuhan virus.
In June, Moderna reported that trial data showed that when administered as a fourth dose, the variant-adapted injection raised virus-neutralizing antibodies eightfold against Omicron.
According to Moderna, the adapted variant generated antibody levels against the sub-variants that were 1.69 times higher than those administered with the original booster.
No serious safety concerns have been identified with the new formul of Moderna, the MHRA added on Monday.
The original vaccines used in the pandemic were designed to train the body to fight the first form of the virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Since then, the virus has mutated significantly, with variants including Omicron, allow vaccine protection to be avoided, leading to a new rise in infection cases.
Everyone over 50 and people in high-risk groups will be offered some form of booster from next month, the BBC reported.
"The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives," MHRA chief executive June Raine said in a statement.
"What this bivalent vaccine gives us is an advanced tool in our arsenal to help us protect ourselves from this disease as the virus continues to evolve."
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