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UK Is The First Country To Approve A Dual Covid Vaccine Targeting Omicron

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Britain on Monday became the first country in the world to approve a dual Covid-19 vaccine. The new Moderna vaccine tackles both the original virus and the newer omicron variant.

After receiving the go-ahead from the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on Monday – the new updated vaccine by Moderna, will be available to adults as a booster shot.

Commission on Human Medicines – British government’s independent scientific advisory body – too has endorsed the updated vaccine.

The MHRA insisted that while existing vaccines — which were designed to combat the original Covid virus — continue to provide good protection, the updated version would provide better protection as the virus evolves.

“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 armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” Dr. June Raine, chief executive of MHRA, said.

The Commission on Human Medicines said that the approval is a positive step, particularly for viruses with high levels of mutation.

“The virus, SARS-CoV-2, is continually evolving in order to evade the immunity provided by vaccines. This novel bivalent vaccine represents the next step in the development of vaccines to combat the virus, with its ability to lead to a broader immune response than the original vaccine.”

The approval follows clinical trials, in which a booster with Moderna’s bivalent vaccine was shown to trigger a strong immune response against both the original 2020 strain as well as omicron BA.1, which emerged in the U.K. last winter, reported Reuters.

UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay said it was “very good news for the UK population” and those eligible “will have the comfort of knowing that their immunity has been topped up”. People will be contacted from early September, he added.

Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive officer of Moderna, said he was “delighted” the vaccine had been approved. “This represents the first authorisation of an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine; this bivalent vaccine has an important role to play in protecting people in the UK from Covid-19 as we enter the winter months,” he said.

BBC reported that Moderna is not the only company updating its vaccines. Pfizer has also been developing vaccines that can target Omicron. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, however, is not being updated.

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