On Monday, the UK’s medicines regulator announced it had approved the latest Moderna vaccine, which is supposed to offer better protection against the so-called ‘omicron’ variant of COVID-19.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement that it had approved a booster dose vaccine for adults “after it was found to meet the safety, quality and efficacy standards of UK regulators”. said.
As the UK rushes to become the first country to approve its first COVID vaccine, as in late 2020, the MHRA decision comes ahead of, among other things, the pending soon-to-be-expected from European regulators. It was done.
Moderna calls the new vaccine “bivalent.” This is 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 that showed some resistance to existing viruses. vaccination.
A top MHRA official said approval does not mean that existing COVID vaccines are no longer useful.
“The first-generation COVID-19 vaccine in use in the UK continues to provide important protection and save lives against this disease,” said June Lane, Chief Executive Officer of MHRA. “This bivalent vaccine gives us a sharp tool in our arsenal to help protect us from this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
US awaits BA.4 and BA.5 compatibility
Moderna said it expects to receive similar approvals from regulators in Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere in the coming weeks.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it will require new vaccines to specifically include new subvariants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, in order to gain domestic approval.
The Moderna vaccine isn’t designed to combat these, but the MHRA on Monday released an exploratory analysis that suggests the shot produces a “good immune response” even against new subvariants. I quoted
The Omicron variant accelerated the spread of COVID, proved to be more resistant to vaccines and spread more easily than other variants. On the other hand, however, it also tends to cause milder symptoms, lodging more in the nasal passages than in the lungs.
Who Still Needs Boosters?
The UK government said last month that it will launch a vaccine booster program in “early fall”, with new doses offered to people over the age of 50, individuals in clinical risk groups, frontline workers and nursing home staff.
Similar discussions are taking place in several other countries, including Germany, about how widespread future vaccination promotions should be.
With mostly non-lethal and increasingly endemic viruses like COVID, most people have some degree of natural immunity from past vaccinations or past illness or both. means that the cost of universal vaccination and even the small risks can quickly be seen as unjustified. .
The German STIKO Vaccination Committee currently recommends a second “booster” or fourth vaccination only for those over 70 and at-risk groups. But Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, a doctor who recently suffered a bout of COVID, recommends looking at broader booster shots.