Britain gets ‘sharpened tool’ in Covid fight

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The UK has become the first country to approve an updated Moderna vaccine that targets both the original and Omicron strains

Britain on Monday became the first country to approve an updated Covid-19 vaccine that targets both the Omicron and original 2020 strains in what has been hailed as a significant new addition to the “armory” against the virus.

According to a statement of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the “bivalent” Spikevax vaccine, manufactured by Moderna, has been approved for adult booster doses “after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.”

The dose is divided into two 25 microgram components, one of which targets the original virus strain and the other neutralizes Omicron, MHRA explained.

The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines continues to provide “important protection against the disease,” the regulator’s head, Dr. June Raine, said. “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,” she added.

Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, said that the US company was “delighted” by Britain’s decision.

“This represents the first authorization of an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine, further highlighting the dedication and leadership of the UK public health authorities in helping to end the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bancel said in a statement.

The vaccine has also been submitted for approval with the authorities in Australia, Canada and the EU, Moderna said, with further authorization decisions expected “in the coming weeks.”

As of August, 10,126,504,756 vaccine doses have been administered in the UK. This includes 45,188,570 first doses, 42,520,292 second doses, and 33,436,351 third or booster doses.

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