The drug regulator United Kingdom said on Monday that it had approved a vaccine for modern updated which is supposed to offer better protection against the so-called Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement it had approved the vaccine for adult booster doses “after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s standards for safety, quality and efficacy”.
As in late 2020, when the UK raced to become the first country to approve the first Covid-19 vaccine, the MHRA decision came ahead of pending decisions expected soon from European regulators. , among others.
Moderna calls the new vaccine “bivalent” because it is designed to stimulate an immune response against two different antigens, both the original Covid-19 variant and the first “Omicron” (or BA.1) variant, which has shown a degree of resistance. to existing ones. vaccines.
However, the MHRA’s top official said the approval did not mean existing Covid-19 vaccines were no longer useful.
“The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives,” said MHRA Chief Executive June Raine. “What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharp tool in our arsenal to help protect against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
USA awaiting compatibility with Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants
Moderna says it expects similar approval from regulators in Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere in the coming weeks.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it will seek specific inclusion of the new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, in any new vaccine that receives national approval.
Although this Moderna vaccine was not designed to counter them, the MHRA on Monday also cited an exploratory analysis suggesting that the vaccine also generates a “good immune response” against the new subvariants.
As we have mentioned in AmericanPost.News, the Omicron variant accelerated the spread of Covid-19, proving to be more resistant to vaccines and easier to spread than other variants. But on the other hand, it also usually causes milder symptoms, settling more in the nostrils than in the lungs.
It may interest you: By Ómicron, the harsh restrictions in the world return
Who still needs booster shots in the UK?
The UK government said last month it would start a vaccine booster program in “early autumn” and offer renewed doses to people over 50, people in clinical risk groups, frontline workers and household staff. of elderly.
Similar debates about how widespread future vaccination campaigns should be are occupying several other countries, including Germany.
With a largely non-lethal virus like Covid-19, and one that is becoming increasingly endemic, meaning most people have some natural immunity either from past vaccinations or past illness or both, costs and even minor risks of universal vaccination could soon be seen as unjustified.
Currently, the German vaccination commission STIKO only recommends a second “booster” or a fourth dose of vaccine for those over 70 years of age and risk groups. However, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a doctor who recently suffered from a bout of Covid-19, recommended considering more widespread booster shots.
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