UK becomes first country to approve new vaccine targeting Omicron

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London, Aug 15 (IANS): The UK has become the first country to approve a new Covid jab specifically targeting the Omicron variant, Daily Mirror reported.

The “next generation” coronavirus booster jab may only need administering once a year and has been approved for use in adults.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised Moderna’s bivalent vaccine, which targets the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant, Daily Mirror reported.

Known as mRNA-1273.214, the dose is an updated version of the Moderna vaccine which is already in use for first, second and booster doses, and it will be the first dose approved in the UK which targets two strains of the virus.

Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Burton, previously said that the new jab can boost a person’s antibodies to such high levels that it may only be needed annually, Daily Mirror reported.

Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer at Moderna, described it as a “next generation Covid -19 vaccine” which will play an “important role in protecting people in the UK from Covid-19” over the winter.

Bancel said: “We are delighted with the MHRA’s authorisation of Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron, our next generation Covid-19 vaccine.

“This represents the first authorisation of an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine, further highlighting the dedication and leadership of the UK public health authorities in helping to end the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Bancel added that the jab has “consistently shown superior breadth of immune response” over alternatives in clinical trials.

The MHRA said that the vaccine’s side effects are the same as those seen in the original Moderna booster dose and were typically mild.

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