UK approves Omicron-ready COVID vaccine

World Tuesday 16/August/2022 10:45 AM
By: DW
UK approves Omicron-ready COVID vaccine
Moderna said its new vaccine provided twice as much resistance against the Omicron variants as its original

The UK's drug regulator on Monday said it had approved an updated Moderna vaccine which is supposed to offer better protection against the so-called "Omicron" variant of COVID-19.

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement that it had approved the vaccine for adult booster doses "after it was found to meet the UK regulator's standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."

As in late 2020, when the UK rushed to become the first country to approve the first COVID vaccine, the MHRA decision came ahead of pending ones expected soon from European regulators, among others.

Moderna calls the new vaccine "bivalent" because it is designed to stimulate an immune response against two different antigens — both the original COVID variant and the first "Omicron" (or BA.1) variant, which has demonstrated a degree of resistance to existing vaccines.

The MHRA's top official said the approval did not mean that existing COVID vaccines were no longer useful, however.

"The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives," MHRA's Chief Executive June Raine said. "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."