The UK has become the world’s first country to approve a new Covid vaccine, which targets two different strains of the virus. If given the green light by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the new Moderna jab could play a key role in a booster campaign already planned this winter.
It has been approved by the MHRA for use in adults over the age of 18, and Moderna have also applied for regulatory approval in Australia, Canada, and the EU.
Known as “Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron”, the US-manufactured vaccine targets both the original form of Covid-19, as well as the Omicron BA.1 variant, which quickly spread through the country in the lead up to Christmas last winter.
Dr June Raine, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) chief executive, said: “I am pleased to announce the approval of the Moderna bivalent booster vaccine, which was found in the clinical trial to provide a strong immune response against the Omicron BA.1 variant as well as the original 2020 strain.
“The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue 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.”
Moderna also provided vaccines used in the first, second, and booster jabs across the UK during the vaccination programme. MHRA analysis found that the new vaccine showed a good response to the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, and, according to Moderna, generates a higher level of antibody protection against these variants than the original booster dose.