UK Approves Coronavirus Booster That Targets Omicron Variant
In clinical trials, the vaccine generated a positive immune response in patients to the two variants.
The United Kingdom has become the first country to sign off on a Covid vaccine that targets two variants, the Omicron strain and the original virus from 2020, according to a New York Times report.
Half of each dose of the vaccine will target the original variant, while the other half will target Omicron. In clinical trials, the vaccine generated a positive immune response in patients to the two variants, researchers said.
“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 of safety, quality and effectiveness,” read an official government release Monday.
Moderna also reported that its updated booster shot showed a “potent” response against the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Per BBC News, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said that it was “very good news for the UK population” and those eligible “will have the comfort of knowing that their immunity has been topped up.” He added that people will be contacted beginning in early September.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, wrote on Twitter that he was “delighted” that the vaccine had been approved.
“This represents the first authorization 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 enter the winter months,” he said.
CNN reported that Pfizer and BioNTech in June also tested two Covid vaccine boosters that target the Omicron variant. Preliminary results have been mostly positive.
The updated boosters will be rolling out in the United States as well. Late last month, the Biden administration confirmed that it plans to offer the retooled shots starting in September.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense have already announced an agreement to purchase 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent booster. Meanwhile, the federal government also recently purchased more than 100 million bivalent booster doses from Pfizer-BioNTech.
“We must stay vigilant in our fight against Covid-19 and continue to expand Americans’ access to the best vaccines and treatments,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “As we look to the fall and winter, we’re doing just that—ensuring Americans have the tools they need to stay safe and help keep our nation moving forward.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.