Home / Science / Health /  UK approves Covid vaccine targeting both Omicron, first strain
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Britain has achieved another milestone in the global battle against Covid-19 as it became the first nation to approve a bivalent vaccine that targets both the original and Omicron variant of the virus.

The bivalent vaccine, made by Moderna, has gained approval from the UK medicine regulator- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency(MHRA) as a booster dose for adults.

The MHRA gave its approval for the vaccine based on the clinical trial data that indicated a triggered 'strong immune response' by the vaccine against the Omicron variant(BA.1) as well as the original Covid-19 virus, reported Reuters.

The exploratory analysis of the clinical trials reveals that the shot was also effective in generating an immune response against the currently prevalent Omicron offshoots BA.4 and BA.5.

Moreover, the agency couldn't find any major safety concerns with the new formulation. After the approval of the vaccine, the next course of action will be decided by Britain's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation(JCVI) about its rollout in the country.

The continuous mutation of the virus has provided its several variants with a window to escape the immunity provided by the existing Covid-19 vaccines. This has led to a decrease in their effectiveness, even when they are still successfully providing good protection against hospitalisation and death.

"The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK continues to provide important protection against the disease and save lives," MHRA Chief Executive June Raine said in a statement.

"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."

Signaling a wider acceptance of such kinds of vaccines, European Medicines Agency(EMA) officials expect that the COVID variant-adapted vaccines will be approved in the European Union by September. They also hinted that the regulator is exploring possibilities of using booster shots that also target the older BA.1 variant as the ones that are specifically focused on boosting immunity against the newer subvariants are lagging in the clinical development.

On the contrary, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking to include vaccine shots that are focused on newer variants in its national vaccine program. FDA has said that it will specifically include the newer BA.4 and BA.5 offshoots of omicron in any new shots used domestically.

In addition to Moderna, other vaccine makers like Pfizers Inc and BioNTech are also working on modifying their mRNA vaccine to combat Omicron variants.

Meanwhile, Sanofi and partner GSK are working to come up with a protein-based vaccine that targets to build immunity against the Beta subvariant.

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