Britain, the first country to approve Covid vaccines in late 2020, has now also given the first green light to a variant-adapted shot that targets both Covid-19 (the original virus) and its Omicron variant. The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave the vaccine made by U.S. drug company Moderna conditional approval as a booster for adults after it had determined that it meets standards of safety, quality, and efficacy.
MHRA‘s chief executive John Ren stated that clinical test data show that the vaccine causes a “strong immune response” against the original strain and Omicron, and will provide a “useful tool in our arsenal” at a time when the virus continues to evolve.
In a statement, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel expressed “happiness” with the decision, which he described as “the first approval of a dual Covid vaccine containing Omicron.”
The updated vaccine is expected to be available to adults as a booster jab from the fall.
The British Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization is now expected to make a recommendation on how to introduce the Covid vaccine in the country. The MHRA also mentioned an exploratory study that demonstrated that the dose elicits a good immune response against the currently dominant Omicron PE4 and PE5 mutants.
According to MHRA, there are no serious concerns about the safety of this vaccine, and receiving it is accompanied by “usually mild” side effects caused by the original Moderna vaccine.
In June, Moderna announced that trial data showed that when the vaccine is given as a fourth dose, the antibodies that neutralize the virus increased by 8 times in the face of Omicron.
Due to the outbreak of the Omicron mutant and the lifting of restrictions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in July that the epidemic was “far from over.”