UNITED KINGDOM: An Omicron-specific Covid vaccine developed by Moderna has been approved for use in the UK after trials showed promising results. This next generation coronavirus booster jab, which only need administering once a year, has been approved for use in adults by United Kingdom
Britain’s drug regulator announced it on Monday that it has approved Moderna’s updated coronavirus vaccine, which targets the Omicron variant as well as the original form.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement that it approved the adult booster vaccine “after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s safety, quality and efficacy standards”.
It was the first such “bivalent” Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by the UK regulator. MHRA chief executive June Raine said the data from the clinical trial showed they produced a “strong immune response” against the original virus and Omicron provided a “sharpened tool in our armoury” as the virus continued to evolve.
Dr June Raine stated, “The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK continues to provide important protection against the disease and save lives.What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines and this will include the vaccine approved today,” she added.
The World Health Organization warned in July that the pandemic was “never over” due to the spread of Omicron sub-variants and the lifting of control measures.
Half of Moderna’s vaccine, called Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron, targets the original 2020 virus and half targets the Omicron (BA.1) variant.
“We are delighted with the MHRA’s authorisation of Spikevax… 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 pandemic,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.
The MHRA said the vaccine was also generating a “good response” against two sub-variants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which have partly caused a wave of new cases of the disease in Europe and the United States.
It also said the vaccine has the same “usually mild” side effects as Moderna’s original vaccine. The UK is the first country to approve its use.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India is working on an Omicron-specific vaccine with Novavax, institute chief Adar Poonawalla told NDTV in an interview today. The vaccine can be expected according to
at the end of the year, he said.
The vaccine will be specific to the BA5 Omicron sub-variant, for which the UK has approved Moderna’s updated vaccine. The bivalent vaccine targets both the Omicron variant and the original form.