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EU Regulator Approves BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Against Omicron

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Both Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer have been given authorization by European Medicines Agency for the use of their vaccines against the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The vaccines were produced by the US-German partnership BioNTech-Pfizer and by the US company Moderna. Bothe these vaccines are the first to target the omicron variant BA.1. They are also effective against the original strain of the virus.

The European Commission must still give its final nod, but this is expected to be given soon in the near future.

Both the new vaccines function as booster shots for those who have already had a full dose of the original coronavirus vaccine. The EMA recommended the vaccines for anyone aged 12 years and above.

“These vaccines are adapted versions of the original vaccines Comirnaty (BioNTech-Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) to target the omicron BA.1 subvariant in addition to the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” the Amsterdam-based regulator said.

It also said the studies of the vaccine’s effect showed that they “trigger strong immune responses” and that “in particular, they were more effective at triggering immune responses against the BA.1 subvariant than the original vaccines.”

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides welcomed the decision as “important to protect Europeans against the likely risk of autumn and winter waves of infections.”

“We need to be ready to face another winter with COVID-19,” she added.

The EMA said that vaccines designed to tackle the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are still being reviewed and a decision is expected in the next few weeks.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the BA.4/BA.5 vaccines on Wednesday.

The omicron BA.1 subvariant swept through Europe last winter resulting in a vast surge in cases. It has since been largely replaced by the BA.5 subvariant.

While US authorities decided to directly authorize the BA.4/BA.5 adapted shots, the EU has gone instead for the BA.1 vaccines of which large quantities of doses have already been produced, according to German website DW.

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