British drug regulators have become the first to authorize an updated version of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine aimed at protecting against the original virus and the Omicron variant.
In a statement on Monday, the Medicines and Health Care Regulatory Agency said it has given the green light to Moderna’s “bivalent” vaccine formulation, which will be used as a booster injection for adults.
Each booster shot will target both the original COVID-19 virus first detected in 2020 and the Omicron BA.1 variant first captured in November. British regulators said the side effects were similar to those seen in the original Mordaira booster shot and were usually “mild and self-healing”.
“What is this [combination] Dr John Ryan, head of UK Healthcare and Medicines, said the vaccine we are giving us is a sharpening tool in our armory to help protect us from this disease as the virus continues to evolve.
Such an approach is used with influenza vaccines, which are modified each year depending on circulating variants and can protect against four strains of influenza.
This was the first regulatory approval for a vaccine aimed at combating the Omicron variant, Moderna CEO Stefan Bancel said in a statement, and predicted the booster would have an “important role” in protecting people from COVID-19 in the winter. .
British health officials have not yet decided whether the modified vaccine will be used in his fall strategy. In July, the government said everyone 50 and older would be able to get a COVID booster shot in the fall.
On Friday, Germany’s health minister said the European Medicines Agency may remove modified boosters for COVID-19 next month.
In June, the Canadian National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) recommended That those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should get a booster dose this fall in anticipation of a future wave, no matter how many boosters they received previously.
This recommendation applies to everyone 65 years of age or older. The NACI said people between the ages of 12 and 64 “may be offered” additional doses in the fall.
Several provinces and territories have already moved to provide four doses this summer of the original vaccines. The NACI said it will make recommendations on the type of booster to give when evidence of multivalent vaccines is available.
In June, the FDA told vaccine makers that any booster shots modified for drop should include protection against the latest Omicron variants, meaning BA.4 and BA.5, not the BA.1 variant included in the latest Moderna shot.
Last month, the FDA said it was no longer considering allowing a second booster dose of COVID-19 for all adults, but would instead focus on fall-improved vaccines that target the latest viral variants.
Moderna and Pfizer are currently brewing updated versions of their vaccine to include BA.5 in addition to the original COVID-19 virus.
According to the World Health Organization, the latest global wave of COVID-19 has been driven by Omicron subvariant BA.5, which is responsible for about 70 percent of virus samples shared with the world’s largest public virus database.
The BA.5 variant is more contagious than the original version of Omicron and has some genetic differences that previous vaccines may not address.
Scientists have warned that the ongoing genetic evolution of COVID-19 means drug makers will likely be one step behind the virus in their efforts to adapt their vaccines.
Jonathan Ball, professor of virology at Britain’s University of Nottingham, warned that “the virus is unlikely to stand idly by and omicron-targeted immunity may push the virus down other evolutionary pathways.” However, he said Moderna’s new vaccine will likely still be preventive.
“Unless there is a significant shift in the virus, immunity will continue to protect the vast majority of serious diseases caused by emerging variants,” he said in a statement.