UK approves Omicron-updated Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccine

  • The United Kingdom has become the first country to approve Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The vaccine was developed to target both the original strain and Omicron BA.1 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • The Joint committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) will decide how the new vaccine will be offered and if it will be included in its wider fall immunization program against COVID-19 and the flu.

This is a developing story. The article will be updated as more information becomes available.

The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced on Monday, August 15 that it had officially approved Moderna’s new updated COVID-19 vaccine targeting two different coronavirus variants.

In a press release, the MHRA said the vaccine would be used as a booster dose in adults after the vaccine passed tests of safety, quality, and effectiveness.

The booster dose is bivalent, meaning that it can fight two different variants of the virus. It is called “Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron” and contains 50 micrograms of mRNA, half of which targets the original variant from 2020, and the other half targets Omicron BA.1.

“The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.K. continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives. What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” said Dr. June Raine, MHRA chief executive.

The vaccine will be available in England, Scotland, and Wales, while Northern Ireland has received an emergency use authorization.

The U.K. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will now decide whether the updated vaccine will be used in the country’s fall COVID-19 booster program, which it aims to complete by December 2022.

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