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UK first to approve COVID-19 vaccine targeting original strain, omicron

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 4:14 PM, Aug 15, 2022

(WXYZ) — The first bivalent COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in the United Kingdom. Moderna’s updated booster dose targets both the original virus and the omicron variant.

British drug regulators say it’ll be used as an adult booster shot.

Moderna’s updated COVID-19 booster dose has been described as a "next generation COVID-19 vaccine."

It’s called "Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron.” It targets two strains of the virus: the original 2020 virus and omicron’s BA.1 variant that was identified in November. Each shot contains 25 micrograms of Moderna’s original coronavirus vaccine and 25 micrograms of the omicron vaccine.

Now, British health officials approved the new shot after reviewing clinical trial results that showed the booster produced a strong immune response against the omicron variant. Moderna recently said antibody levels were so high in the clinical trials that it’s possible only one shot will be needed annually. Also, side effects were what many people experienced with the original vaccine — they were typically mild and self-resolving.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are updating their vaccines to target the original COVID-19 virus and BA.5. Moderna has said that its updated shot also produced a strong response against omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

As for Pfizer, they tested two COVID-19 vaccine boosters targeting omicron. Preliminary results found a substantially higher immune response than the company’s current vaccine shots.

Details are limited, but Moderna and Pfizer have said they’ll deliver updated COVID-19 booster shots this fall. This should be good timing as we know those common respiratory illnesses like colds, flu and COVID-19 often spread faster in colder months.

Currently, case numbers in the U.S. have fallen by more than 15% in the last couple of weeks, which is good news. But I expect numbers will change with kids returning to school and the weather turning cooler. So, I am looking forward to the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccines as the current shots really need to be updated so that people’s levels of protection can be boosted.  

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.